MANILA — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is considering including in its planned tax amnesty program those with pending tax evasion cases.
During the hearing of the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee Monday, BIR Assistant Commissioner Alfredo Misajon told lawmakers that the BIR was considering to allow individuals with pending tax evasion cases to avail of the condonation but they needed to explain why they erred in their duty to pay taxes.
Misajon said the mere filing of the case was not enough to bar any taxpayer from availing of the condonation unless the court had already decided on the charges.
In an interview after the hearing, Misajon said he had no idea how many individuals had pending tax evasion cases, citing that this information belonged to another department that was not under his jurisdiction.
He, however, said that once these individuals availed of the planned tax amnesty, it was being considered to give them higher penalty than those who had not been found to have questionable tax payments.
“Maybe it’s better that they are given special rates, higher rates, to distinguish them from the ordinary availers,” he said.
Misajon, however, declined to give any figures or possible rates.
“Well, it’s really up to our congressmen. We at the BIR only implement it,” he said.
He said the amount they hope to collect from the planned amnesty program was substantial but he declined to give any figure, pointing out that “these are all preliminary figures that need to be proven in court.”
He said the number of possible tax evaders would not reach a thousand. “We act on certain information that comes to our office, either walk-in information or those gathered through an exchange of information among government offices,” he explained.
He also did not identify a timetable for those who would be covered by the amnesty. “We prosecute them based on the taxable year, when the discrepancy was discovered,” he said.
The Department of Finance (DOF) targets to collect about PHP26-billion from the planned tax amnesty program.
The last time the government implemented tax amnesty is in 2008 and it collected about PHP13 billion from that program, which is being considered by the current administration to fund its infrastructure projects.
The Duterte administration has set an infrastructure program amounting to at least PHP8 trillion until 2022.
It eyes to increase infrastructure spending to about seven percent of GDP from the current five percent in a bid to ensure that necessary infrastructure facilities are constructed.
The planned tax amnesty is under the proposed Package 1-b of the DOF-proposed tax reform program.
House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chair Dakila Carlo Cua, of the Lone District of Quirino, told reporters after the hearing that he was hopeful that the tax amnesty measure would be approved under the proposed Package 1-b.
He eyes the completion of the committee report on the measure to be approved “early March possibly.”
Under his proposed measure, amnesty rate will be based on eight percent of the taxpayers’ network but stressed that this will still depend on the lawmakers.
He added the lawmakers were considering the proposal of the BIR and the National Tax Research Center (NTRC), which had suggested that the rate should be based on taxpayers’ total assets.
“I can’t see how it can be a better system than the networth as of today. We need to study it,” he said.
The lawmaker said careful study of the measure was needed because “it’s a risk and reward issue that we have to decide.”