BIR forges ahead with digital transformation

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will pursue 49 measures to improve its digital platform in response to the transitioning behavior of taxpayers to complete their transactions online.

The BIR yesterday reported that it had begun implementing last year at least 14 of the projects geared toward expanding its payment channels for the benefit of taxpayers compelled by the pandemic to adapt digital tools.

The BIR is targeting a total of 49 measures as part of its 10-year Digital Transformation (DX) Roadmap in line with the directive of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

Broken down, 26 of the projects seek to elevate taxpayer experience and innovate BIR services. On the other hand, nine of the initiatives intend to enhance administrative and support functions, eight plan to align policies for a digital workplace, and six target to enable the digital backbone of the largest revenue agency.

The BIR vowed to pursue the DX projects to sustain its collection efforts in the face of mobility restrictions put in place during the pandemic. The agency said the measures would allow it to collect revenues needed for the government to finance its pandemic response.

In 2020, for instance, the share of taxes paid through digital channels amounted to P1.66 trillion or 85 percent of the BIR’s total collection worth P1.95 trillion.

Likewise, the number of taxpayers who opted to pay their dues online jumped to 447,188 in 2020 from just 78,118 in 2015, as the BIR expanded its transaction network to cover individuals who want to avoid long lines at physical branches.

Further, the volume of tax returns filed through electronic platforms spiked to 94 percent of the total from about 43 percent in 2015, based on records from the BIR.

During the period, the BIR added payment channels of state-owned banks like the Land Bank of the Philippines ePayment System and the Development Bank of the Philippines PayTax Online System to its transaction options. It also tapped GCash as its first e-wallet partner.

The BIR also introduced the Union Bank of the Philippines Online, PESONet, and PayMaya as part of its payment platforms. With the expansion of BIR’s channels, e-payment transactions doubled to 4.01 million in 2020 from around 1.91 million in 2015.

Under its DX Roadmap, the BIR will pursue digital reforms allowing it to schedule appointments with taxpayers through its web site; issue tax clearance for bidding purposes through e-mail; get applications for business registration through e-mail; set up a mobile chat for the verification of tax identification number; among others.

The BIR has laid out the DX projects in compliance with Dominguez’s order to the Department of Finance and its attached agencies to upgrade their digital capabilities.

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