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Issue date: April 17, 2017

Taxmen pin collection hopes on Duterte’s popular support

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte may have been enjoying relatively stable popularity and trust among his constituents, according to surveys, but the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) hopes such support will translate to tax collections that are not just bigger but are also on target.

“We hope our countrymen and fellow taxpayers respond to the call for change by the President by way of paying their taxes correctly and on time,” BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay said in a mobile phone message last week when asked for his expectations on the turnout by deadline today for annual income tax return filing.

The deadline was moved from April 15, Black Saturday this year.

Sought separately for comment, Tax Management Association of the Philippines President Maria Lourdes P. Lim said in a telephone interview last week that the BIR may stand a chance to hit targets this time, “as people are now more supportive of the Duterte administration.”

At the same time, Mr. Dulay flagged Filipinos’ penchant for putting off fulfillment of duties until the last minute as an annual headache for the bureau.

“We are concerned that last-day and last-minute filing may clog our system and we hope this does not happen,” he said.

Noting that relatively few taxpayers have been filing early, Ms. Lim said it remains to be seen if process reforms -- such as the offer of electronic filing of income tax returns -- will lead to improved collections over time as the BIR makes it easier for citizens to comply with the law.

Ms. Lim said that although the bureau’s electronic forms have improved, “concern if ever is whether BIR would be able to handle surge of taxpayers during the deadline.”

The BIR can accommodate taxpayers only until 5 p.m. today.

Late filing will entail a 20% interest per annum penalty and a 25% surcharge on the tax due.

The tax bureau -- which accounts for about 80% of total government revenue -- aims to rake in P1.829 trillion this year, with collections from income taxes accounting for about 58%, or P1.057 trillion.

Last year, the BIR raked in P1.567 trillion, about 96% of its downward-adjusted P1.62-trillion target. The bureau was initially tasked to collect P2.025 trillion in 2016, 21% more than its P1.674 trillion target in 2015. In 2015, it achieved 86% of that goal, actually collecting P1.442 trillion.

The bureau began 2017 on a promising note, collecting P147.393 billion in January that narrowly missed a P147.517-billion target for the month.

The month of April, being the deadline for annual income tax returns, usually logs the biggest monthly collection for any given year.

This year, the BIR -- which had been missing its April targets since 2014 -- targets P208.026 billion to be collected this month, accounting for 11.37% of the total tax take.

Last January, the tax bureau issued a revenue memorandum circular that spelled out its priority programs for the year. For attaining its collection targets, the BIR has been expanding taxpayer profiling and industry benchmarking, ramping up its suspension of erring businesses under its Oplan Kandano program, updating zonal values for real property sales and transfers, broadening the tax base by registering more taxpayers in its compliance verification drives, implementing centralized arrears management in the bureau’s regional offices, reviewing cases with the Court of Tax Appeals and complaints with the Justice department to “expedite resolution of these cases” and expanding the Compromise Settlement Program for large taxpayers.

The BIR has filed 17 criminal complaints, so far, under its Run After Tax Evaders program.

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