BIR to continue going after tax evaders

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08:42 PM September 16th, 2011

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By: Kristine L. Alave, September 16th, 2011 08:42 PM

MANILA, Philippines—Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares said the agency would continue to run after tax evaders from all professions as the program seemed to be bearing fruit.

Henares said the BIR’s tax collection rate has improved and this could be an effect of their intensified campaign to run after tax evaders.

“We are collecting much more so maybe more people are paying right,” she said at a press briefing at the Philippine Information Agency on Friday.

“I would say that there’s an effect but it’s not enough. We still have to reach a tipping point, but hopefully that tipping point won’t come to the President escorting someone to jail,” Henares noted.

From January-July 2011, the tax bureau reported that it collected P531.79 billion in taxes from individuals and corporate taxpayers.

While this was 0.58 percent below of the collection target of P534.9 billion set for the first seven months, this was still higher by nearly 14 percent from the collections in the same period last year.

Citing a World Bank study, Henares also said there is still 4 percent of the gross domestic product that can be collected through tax.

The BIR has started to file tax evasion charges against well known members of the law and medical community to set an example to others.

Election lawyer George Erwin Garcia, who counts among his clients deposed President Joseph Estrada and son Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, was charged on Thursday with tax evasion.

According to Henares, Garcia earned only P1.38 million in 2010 but was able to buy a condominium unit in Makati City for P53.3 million, thus underdeclaring his income by 30 percent.

The BIR also filed in the justice department the complaints against Garcia, Banco Filipino lawyer Abelardo Aportadera Jr., neurologist Willy Go Lopez and dermatologist Sylvia Huang.

Henares said the investigation by the BIR was not concentrated on doctors and lawyers. She noted that the agency would file other complaints to professionals in other fields who have been found that they misdeclared their earnings to evade paying the right taxes.

Henares also said the agency constantly monitors newspapers and magazines to see if politicians are exhibiting lavish lifestyles.

The BIR official appealed to the public to help the agency by declaring the true value of their assets and liabilities and to pay the right taxes.

“It is difficult for the BIR to monitor everyone. We have to monitor 27.5 million people,” Henares said.

To avoid being dragged in the media spotlight, the BIR chief urged high-paying professionals and politicians to pay the correct taxes.

“Paying the right taxes is not just a legal obligation, it is also a moral obligation,” Henares said.

Henares noted that small businesses and cab drivers should follow the BIR’s rules on issuing receipts. Vendors who sell goods online and in bazaars should register their business and issue receipts for every transaction.

“Everyone who has a business has to register. Those who sell goods P25 and above should give receipts,” she said.

She also reminded taxi drivers and operators to give receipts to their passengers. The BIR is currently monitoring this program, she said. Henares said drivers and operators who have failed to do this could face jail time.

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