BIR probes reports of fake cigarette tax stamps
THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) is looking into reports of fake tax stamps being affixed on cigarette packs, according to Revenue Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares.
“We have received reports that there were counterfeit cigarette tax stamps, but we are still verifying them,” Henares told reporters last week.
Without disclosing details of such reports, Henares noted that there was no indication that cigarette manufacturers themselves were behind the alleged counterfeiting of tax stamps.
The BIR chief said she wanted to ensure that the implementation of the Internal Revenue Stamps Integrated System (Irsis) on tobacco products was “stable” before venturing into a similar initiative covering distillers spirits and alcoholic drinks.
“[Irsis] on cigarettes has been doing OK so far, but I want to make sure that its system is stable in terms of ordering and delivering [stamps] and its infrastructure,” Henares said.
She said the planned Irsis on alcohol remained on track for rollout within the second half of this year. Irsis is aimed at collecting the correct excise taxes on “sin” products such as cigarettes and liquor.
Last year, the BIR ordered that all cigarette packs to be produced domestically must already be affixed with tax stamps starting December so that only stamped locally made cigarettes would be sold beginning March 1 this year.
As for imported cigarettes, all packs should bear tax stamps since April 1.
Henares earlier disclosed that collections from excise taxes slapped on locally manufactured sin products reached P21.7 billion during the first quarter, up 31.2 percent year-on-year.
“The drastic increase in collection can be attributed to the increase in excise tax rates and implementation of Irsis on tobacco,” she had explained.
Meanwhile, Henares conceded that the BIR likely missed its collections goal last April, as many businesses suffered from slower revenues last year due to trade bottlenecks caused by the congested ports in the city of Manila.
“I don’t think I’d expect [April collections] to do well because that month, we collected full-year income tax [for 2014]. If you recall, businesses encountered problems last year, like port congestion. Based on companies’ reports, their sales had been affected because they lacked inventory of raw materials,” she explained.
The daytime truck ban implemented by the Manila city government from February to September last year stalled the movement of goods in and out of the country’s busiest sea ports.