I read some very bad news this morning. This news is worse for me than the VPN crackdown of last month.
Starting from April 8 China is changing the way imported personal packages are taxed when purchased online via e-commerce websites. This means no more tax free imports for your online shopping from iHerb, Amazon USA, etc. Under the current system packages purchased online and sent directly to consumers in China are assessed a "parcel tax" instead of regular import taxes and consumption taxes. The parcel tax is between 10% to 50% depending on the product category (most products are 10%). If the total parcel tax is below 50 yuan then it's waived. That means you can order up to 500 yuan (for 10% parcel tax category goods) and important your package tax free. To avoid tax all you have to do it split your orders into smaller orders so no single package incurs a parcel tax over 50 yuan. I have been doing this for years and you can see see some of my favorite iHerb shopping carts here that are eligible for free shipping and free of import tax (parcel tax).
Well it looks like the golden days of shipping packages to China from overseas online shopping websites are over. The Ministry of Finance has announced last week that starting from April 8, 2016 goods sent directly to consumers from overseas will be treated as regular imports and subject to regular import duties and value added consumption taxes. They say this is to even the playing field between domestic and foreign products. This is actually true because when you buy anything in China it is subject to value added consumption tax.
I don't know what will happen if I order something today and the package doesn't clear customs until after April 8. As of now the iHerb website has not been updated and it still calculates tax according to the current parcel tax formula if shipping by SF Express (Shipping by China UCS does not calculate the tax in advance, the tax is assessed when your package arrives).
I'm going to make a few orders today and try to get my packages imported tax free under the current parcel tax system. It so happens that iHerb is running a special this week for an additional 20% off certain brands including Vega, the maker of my favorite nutritional shake.
If you haven't tried iHerb yet then there is no better time than today to make an order and try to get your package tax free before the new changes are in effect. Don't forget to use my promotion code ITU171 and get USD $5 off your first order!
If you want to buy something from Amazon USA tax free then use this link and you will only see items eligible for international shipping. If your package is not too heavy the shipping rates are very reasonable.
Tips and general information for shopping on iHerb
My iHerb favorites - my actual shopping carts which are all eligible for free shipping and tax free (before April 8, 2016)
Tips and general information for shopping on Amazon USA
Sources for news about the change in import tax policy: