Cross-border principle of the VAT system

Since the purchases of respondent Seagate Technology Philippines are not exempt from the value-added tax (VAT), the rate to be applied is zero. Its exemption under both PD 66 and RA 7916 effectively subjects such transactions to a zero rate, because the ecozone within which it is registered is managed and operated by the PEZA as a separate customs territory. This means that in such zone is created the legal fiction of foreign territory. Under the cross-border principle of the VAT system being enforced by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), no VAT shall be imposed to form part of the cost of goods destined for consumption outside of the territorial border of the taxing authority. If exports of goods and services from the Philippines to a foreign country are free of the VAT, then the same rule holds for such exports from the national territory -- except specifically declared areas -- to an ecozone.

Sales made by a VAT-registered person in the customs territory to a PEZA-registered entity are considered exports to a foreign country; conversely, sales by a PEZA-registered entity to a VAT-registered person in the customs territory are deemed imports from a foreign country. An ecozone -- indubitably a geographical territory of the Philippines -- is, however, regarded in law as foreign soil. This legal fiction is necessary to give meaningful effect to the policies of the special law creating the zone. If respondent is located in an export processing zone within that ecozone, sales to the export processing zone, even without being actually exported, shall in fact be viewed as constructively exported under EO 226. Considered as export sales, such purchase transactions by respondent would indeed be subject to a zero rate. (G.R. No. 153866. February 11, 2005)