Tax court affirms forfeiture of passenger’s excess peso, yen
Consider this a public service announcement: Carrying excessive amounts of cash on international flights without declaring them will lead to their forfeiture.
The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) has denied a female passenger’s bid to recover the cash forfeited by airport customs officials for exceeding the allowable limits of international currency transport.
In a recent 20-page decision, the CTA Second Division affirmed the Ninoy Aquino International Airport district collector’s May 2013 decision to forfeit the P286,000 and 2.84 million yen confiscated from Ronavie Renon Kamata in June 2012.
The bundles of cash were found in Kamata’s hand-carried bag while about to depart for Narita, Japan.
Kamata was carrying P296,000 and 3.62 million yen, but authorities returned P10,000 and 780,000 yen, the maximum amount she was allowed to take out.
The court said Kamata did not have an authorization from the central bank to transport the rest of the cash.
The central bank requires persons to seek authorization before bringing an amount exceeding P10,000 out of the country. Those bringing foreign currency exceeding the equivalent of $10,000 into the country are likewise required to declare it in writing.
“Based on these facts, it is clear that there was an attempt on the part of the petitioner [Kamata] to export the subject currencies in violation,” of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) rules, read the decision.
Kamata had said her failure to declare the currencies was not intentional and blamed airport and customs authorities for failing to provide “outgoing passengers with the necessary forms.”
The CTA disagreed that the seizure of Kamata’s money unreasonably violated her right to privacy. It said that searches and seizures under routine airport security procedures have been recognized by the Supreme Court as an exception to the general prohibition on warrantless searches.
The decision also refuted Kamata’s contention that the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines did not explicitly consider currencies as objects subject to forfeiture, or that the BSP circulars do not explicitly sanction forfeiture for undeclared money.