Digital tax payments rise to 4.6 million

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The number of tax payment made through the digital channel of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) rose to 4.6 million as of October as more Filipinos utilize digital channels for their transactions.

According to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, electronic transactions made with the BIR during the review period have already exceeded the four million payments made for the whole of 2020.

Likewise, Dominguez said nearly all of income tax returns (ITRs) for 2021 were filed through the digital platform of the BIR, improving from around 90 percent in 2020.

Dominguez said just one in every 10 taxpayers nationwide processed their ITRs using the BIR’s online tools prior to the Duterte administration in 2015. He added the agency started transferring its transactions to digital channel even before the pandemic reached the Philippines.

“Much critically, our revenue agencies – the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs – began their digital transformation early. When the pandemic struck, our taxpayers were able to file and pay their tax returns digitally, and our ports continued to facilitate trade,” Dominguez said.

Without the shift to electronic means, the finance chief said that government revenues would have suffered during the lockdowns as taxpayers may be discouraged to leave their houses due to fear of contracting the virus.

“Although revenue collections were down in 2020 due to the lockdowns that curtailed economic activity, the combined tax collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs were 14 percent higher than their target,” Dominguez said.

The BIR raised a total of P1.95 trillion in taxes last year, surpassing   the target of P1.69 trillion set by the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC). The Customs, for its part, generated P537.69 billion, beating the DBCC goal of P501.33 billion.

For 2021, the government plans to collect P2.88 trillion in revenue, the bulk of which will come in the form of taxes at P2.71 trillion. It raised a sum of P2.49 trillion in revenue in the 10 months to October, of which P2.25 trillion are taxes paid to the BIR and the Customs.

“The reliability of revenue flows enabled the government to fight the pandemic with confidence,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez said the BIR has to expand its online tools to make sure that all taxpayers can soon transact with the agency as part of the government’s policy to promote inclusive finance.

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