BIR launches new 'smart' TIN cards

Prinz Magtulis - The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines -- Senior citizens and professionals residing in the country's main financial district are the ones to benefit first from an improved, microchip-embedded tax identification (TIN) card. 
Last June 20, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) "soft launched" its "smart" TIN card targeted to replace existing cardboard TIN IDs, according to a briefer on the bureau's website.
"People are complaining why their TIN IDs are made of cardboard so here we are presenting a solution to the problem," outgoing Internal Revenue commissioner Kim Henares said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
Phase 1 of the project, she said, involved the production of 150,000 smart TIN cards to be distributed to new senior citizen and registered professional taxpayers of Revenue Region 8 in Makati City.
It was funded by the agency's share of the recently concluded $434-million Millennium Challenge Corp. compact grant under its Revenue Administration Reform Project.
The five-year program, amounting to $54.3 million, aimed to enhance BIR's information technology systems to improve tax filing, management and administration.
During the soft launch, separate TIN IDs for senior citizens and professionals were unveiled, although with no noticeable difference, except the inclusion of senior citizen number for the former. BIR said designs may still change. 
"Next phases will be bid out. It will be up to the next administration if they want to continue this," Henares said. Her successor, Cesar Dulay, said he "will have it studied" first.

New TIN ID won't be free

Smart TIN IDs are embedded with a microchip and security features that allow the recording of all taxpayer information.
Henares said the goal is for the taxpayer to be able to use his or her ID "like a credit card" to be swiped on point-of-sale (POS) terminals upon purchase for issuing of receipts.
"For purchases in malls which are usually for personal use, your information is no longer necessary to be put in the receipt. But for business with input VAT (value-added tax), they should," she explained.
It will also improve tax monitoring since it would require businesses with POS machines to report daily VAT transactions to the BIR.
"There's a needed infrastructure for that which would allow the daily transmission to BIR. That will be part of the project," Henares said.
Compared to old ones however, new TIN cards are not without a price. Henares already asked the National Economic and Development Authority to allow the bureau to charge a fee which she did not specify yet.
"I already started the process. If we are going to expand it, it will have to be bid out and put under BIR budget," she said.
BIR, the government's main revenue agency, accounts for more than 80 percent of state revenues every year. 
For the first five months, it already collected P659.96 billion, up 10.67 percent year-on-year. It is tasked to raise P2.026 trillion this year.

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