MANILA, Philippines – Two lawmakers on Thursday blasted the move of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to require online sellers to register with them to ensure compliance with the Tax Code.
In separate statements, ACT-CIS Party-list Representative Niña Taduran and Senator Risa Hontiveros both criticized the BIR’s order amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Taduran said the bureau’s move is untimely as many online sellers were just forced to shift to conducting business transactions through digital means after their regular jobs were affected by the public health crisis.
“These online sellers just want to put food on the table. This might even be just a temporary activity for them until they can find a more stable job,” she said.
“I know that every business should be registered and subsequently pay taxes pursuant to the Tax Code, but setting an immediate deadline and warning them of stiff penalty is insensitive. Let the people recover first from the financial beating of this pandemic,” she added.
The BIR, in its Memorandum Circular No. 60-2020 date June 1, notified “all persons doing business and earning income in any manner or form, specifically those who are into digital transactions through the use of any electronic platforms and media, and other digital means, to ensure that their businesses are registered pursuant to the provisions of Section 236 of the Tax Code, as amended, and that they are tax compliant.”
The BIR also want these online businesses to declare their past transactions for taxation purposes.
Online selling boomed after several establishments, including malls and restaurants, were forced to operate in limited capacities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hontiveros, for her part, urged the government to collect first the unpaid taxes of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).
“Imbes na online sellers, baka pwedeng singilin muna ang mga POGO na may 50 billion pesos in unpaid taxes?” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“Hindi yung dagdag-perwisyo pa sa sarili nating mga kababayan na kaunti na nga lang ang kita para pandagdag-gastos sa pamilya nila,” she added.
The BIR order stated that those who will register their business activity and/or update their registration status on or before July 31, 2020 shall not be imposed with penalty for late registration.
Taduran urged the bureau to defer the deadline until next year to give ample time for online sellers to prepare for their business registration.
“Nakadapa pa ang lahat dahil sa pandemic. Pinipilit na lang ng mga taong mabuhay makaraang mawalan sila ng regular na trabaho kaya’t nag-shift sa online selling,” she said.
“At this time, when we are discouraging people to go outside, it will be difficult for them to process all the requirements needed for their registration with the July 31, 2020 deadline,” Taduran added.
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