BIR strengthens marketing campaign towards tax evasion

The tax official has stepped up his campaign against tax evasion with 84 cases filed with the Justice Department in the first half, the Treasury Department (DOF) said on Friday.

In a statement, the DOF said these complaints filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) against suspected tax evaders totaled pesos 3.15 billion in unpaid taxes

Citing a recent report by Deputy Finance Commissioner Arnel Guballa to Finance Minister Carlos Dominguez III, the DOF said the BIR also intends to raise approximately $ 1.54 billion.

As part of its “Run After Tax Evaders” program, the BIR brings suspected defaulting taxpayers to court.

Guballa also told Dominguez that the country’s largest tax collection agency temporarily closed 274 tax-defaulting companies from January to June as part of its Oplan Kandado program.

These Oplan Kandado operations generated a back tax payment of pesos 1.01 billion paid by misleading entities, he said.

The BIR is also stepping up its campaign against the illegal cigarette trade. Guballa said the agency recently seized cigarettes with counterfeit tax stamps and unstamped packs from two warehouses in Pampanga. These were unpaid taxes amounting to around 1.56 billion pesos.

The BIR also confiscated 3,500 e-cigarette pods that were sold in Metro Manila shopping malls for non-payment of duties and value-added tax (VAT) worth approximately 1 million pesos.

The confiscated goods were branded RELX and SnowPlus, sold by Gizmobile Ventures Inc. and Luxecity Manila Inc., which were not themselves registered as dealers or distributors of those items with the Agency’s Excise Large Taxpayers Regulatory Department.

“If no taxes are paid on it, the products will be destroyed,” warned Jethro Sabariaga, regional director of BIR Manila.

Sabariaga said he expected other BIR offices in Metro Manila to crack down on e-cigarette sellers and importers who don’t pay taxes as well.

The sale and distribution of heated tobacco and steam products without properly issued permits is a violation of the BIR regulations that govern the implementation of the most recent Sin Tax Acts signed by President Duterte in 2019 and 2020, which further increase excise tax rates on cigarettes, E-cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.

—Ben O. de Vera

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