The Invisible Tax
Day 015 – August 6, 2011
Our plan for this Saturday included an outing to Jockey Plaza, a mall located in the suburban area of Lima, Peru.
First on our treasure hunt was the quest for a charger for a mobile phone that went missing during our move. This quest was unsuccessful and the phone remains sans electricity.
Our next stop took us to Casa & Ideas, which is a home furnishing store akin to Bed, Bath, & Beyond or Pier 1 Imports. Among all the knick-knacks, doo-dads, trinkets, and other stuff you didn’t think you needed, were scented coasters. I find it thoroughly intriguing not that someone had the thought of, “Gee, I wish the bottom of my drink glass smelled like lemon”, but that some purchaser for Casa & Ideas had the thought of, “Yeah, we should totally buy those.”
(Author’s Note: No photographic proof of such a product exists because the absurdity of such an item melted our camera.)
Our second-to-last stop was Ace Hardware. This establishment selling all things related to home improvement is one of the pair of business occupying this market space. Whereas Home Depot is Ace Hardware’s competition in the United States, here Ace contends with a company called Sodimac, which to my ear sounds like a soft drink you buy at McDonald’s. It was here at Ace that we did not find a lock for our oldest son’s locker (luck was truly not smiling on us for this shopping trip), but we did find a shower caddy for our busy place of washing.
We finished our mercantile excursion with a stopover at a grocery store. My audio impression of that portion of the trip will wait for another posting, because I really wanted to discuss something that happened at the start of Jockey Plaza adventure (wow…talk about burying the lead).
Since we are a family that is grumpy when hungry and “shopping while grumpy” is not a state that sits well with any member of our family (and it usually ends with a pout-fest being thrown somewhere…yes, I stand guilty), we kicked off our Saturday outing with a stop at the Food Court.
My oldest son, my daughter, and myself went to Bembos and enjoyed their hamburgers. My lovely wife and middle child went to a sandwich shop. It was when we were back at the table that I noticed something odd in the receipts. My piece of paper from the hamburger place had a line containing the extra tax we paid, while the receipt from the sandwich shop did not.
Here in Peru, the sales tax is known as the IGV, which stands for Impuesto General a las Ventas. Hovering around 18%, this surcharge is added on to every purchase that I have seen so far except for taxis. While the IGV is a steeper sales tax than I am used to in the States, there is one beneficial difference between any state’s version of the sales tax and Peru’s IGV. Here in Peru, when you see the price for something on the shelf, that is the price you will pay. As you stare at that shower caddy, there is no need for a mental calculation to add in the 3%, 5%, or 7% depending on your state. In Lima, what you see is the price you pay.
So why did Bembos include the IGV, but the sandwich shop did not? Was this provider of meat-on-bread goods skirting the law in some way? Have I uncovered some dastardly deed of skullduggery most unpleasant?
Probably not and it will most likely remain a mystery to my Northern Hemisphere mind.
But not as a big a mystery as scented coasters.