Senators want BIR probed over poor tax collection
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - March 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate may look into the poor collection performance of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) as the Department of Finance (DOF) continued to prod Congress to pass more tax bills.

Based on reports, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the BIR has yet to collect around P80 billion in back taxes while the DOF continues to press Congress to pass new tax measures that many have warned could lead to business closures and loss of jobs.

“Why do we have to pass more tax measures when we have not been collecting taxes diligently? It makes no sense why we’re passing additional taxes when the BIR has some P80 billion in verified and assessed taxes they have failed to collect in years,” Zubiri said. “That’s why many of my colleagues have been arguing, keep on asking why are we passing tax bills when the BIR is not even collecting.”

He said he would bring up the BIR’s failure to collect tax arrears during plenary deliberations on the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Reform Act.

The government needs funds for the Universal Health Care program, Zubiri said.

He said P80 billion is enough to fund the budget of three or four departments, adding there are numerous pending tax cases languishing in the BIR.

Recently, the offices of Senators Sonny Angara and Bong Go wrote Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay and Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to look into the alleged failure of revenue collection agencies to collect more than P2 billion in import duties and income tax levied on steel importers’ Metal Exponents Inc., Metalex International Inc. and Ferrotech Steel Corp., all owned by businessman Benito Keh.

“Kindly evaluate the merits of the request considering all aspects of law, possible precedence and the utmost interest of the government and welfare of the general public,” a letter from Go’s office read.

The senators asked the officials following an appeal for assistance from Ireneo Quizon, a former official of the companies, in pushing the BIR and the Bureau of Customs to act on the tax cases against Keh filed over eight years ago.

“These cases were forwarded to the BIR as early as April 2011. But to date, the cases remain pending and taxes due the government uncollected,” Quizon told the senators.             

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