(PN file photo)

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), through its Revenue District Office No. 36 in Puerto Princesa City, conducted its Ease of Paying Taxes Roadshow on June 6 at the VJR Hall, marking the third information campaign in Palawan.

The roadshow aimed to inform taxpayers about the benefits and changes brought by the implementation of Republic Act 11976, or the Ease of Paying Taxes (EOPT) Act, which was signed into law in January this year.

This Act amended sections of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.

The roadshow was rescheduled a day earlier to accommodate the soft opening of the 2024 Baragatan Festival.

Revenue District Officer Rodante Caballero noted the large number of attendees, including business owners, accountants, and bookkeepers, which came as a welcome surprise.

Salient features
Caballero observed that the most common question asked by Palaweños regarding the EOPT Act was the use of invoices, which are now the primary documents used to claim tax deductions and value-added tax (VAT) credit for transactions of more than ₱500 – a price which will be adjusted every three years depending on the consumer price index measured by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The previous requirement of “business style” for mandatory information required in invoices was removed. Instead, invoices are required to have the name, Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), date of transaction, quantity, unit cost, and description of merchandise or nature of service in order to be used to file for taxes within the BIR.

Under the EOPT law, invoices replaced the official receipt (OR) as the primary document for taxes. While ORs are proof of payment for a buyer, an invoice serves as the seller’s request for payment.

“Yung mga official receipt naman meron pa sila hanggang December 31 na gamitin iyon, provided na may mai-submit sila sa office tulad ng inventory list and then i-stamp nila [yung invoice] doon sa word na OR para magamit nila (…) bale i-strike out yung [OR],” he said.

(The official receipts can still be used until December 31, provided that they submit documents to the office, such as inventory list, and then stamp the invoice with the word “OR” so they can use it. They will basically strike out the [OR].)

Invoices can be issued to buyers upon request, regardless of the transacted amount, but if such transactions fall below the ₱500 amount, it must be written as part of the aggregated sales at the end of the day.

Furthermore, Caballero added that the reclassification of taxpayers was beneficial to the majority of business owners in Puerto Princesa, whom the City Business Permits Licensing Office classified as being 90% micro and small enterprise proprietors.

Under the EOPT law, micro taxpayers were classified as those with a threshold of gross sales less than ₱3 million; small taxpayers as those with gross sales of more than ₱3 million but less than ₱20 million; medium taxpayers with more than ₱20 million but less than ₱1 billion, and large taxpayers with gross sales of ₱1 billion and above.

Caballero noted that the simplified income tax return forms filled out by micro and small taxpayers were in the middle of revision.

“Two pages na lang. Then yung mga penalties mas mababa na compared dun sa mga medium and large taxpayers. Naging 50% na yung penalties (…) yung surcharge before is 25%, pero sa mga micro and small taxpayers 10% na lang,” he added.

(Only two pages left. Also, the penalties are lower compared to those for medium and large taxpayers. The penalties have been reduced to 50%. Previously, the surcharge was 25%, but for micro and small taxpayers, it’s now only 10%.)

Challenges to Palaweños
RDO No. 36 conducted its previous roadshows by clusters, starting with the Calamianes group of islands and most recently in El Nido for the northern municipalities.

Located in Puerto Princesa City, RDO No. 36 serves as the sole BIR outlet for Palawan. Assistant Revenue District Officer John Rainier Camba mentioned that the distance from their office posed a significant challenge for taxpayers.

Camba noted that the EOPT Act addressed this concern by refining the online filing system for taxpayers.

“Bawat munisipyo dito sa Palawan, meron tayong mga taga-BIR na tinatawag nating revenue collection officer, na pwedeng tanggapin manually yung returns or pwede din sila sa online filing. Mas mapapadali sa side ng taxpayer natin, lalo na kung di siya masyadong techie, di mag-online so meron tayong RCOs sa municipality na tanggapin yung returns na isa-submit nila,” Camba remarked.

(In each municipality here in Palawan, we have what we call revenue collection officers from the BIR. They can accept returns manually or through online filing. This makes it easier for our taxpayers, especially those who are not very tech-savvy and prefer not to file online. So, we have RCOs in the municipality who can accept the returns they submit.)

However, Caballero said that while their office will strictly implement this section of the EOPT Act, they cannot account for other external disruptions to the system, such as frequent signal losses from internet providers in the province.

RDO No. 36 ranked 18th out of 119 nationwide for the first quarter of 2024, a success that Caballero attributed solely to the efforts of the taxpayers. He also noted that the timely tax payments made by the citizens of Puerto Princesa reflected the city’s strong economic standing.

Atty. Genald Valones, President of the Palawan chapter of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), stated that the biggest challenge for taxpayers in the province was ignorance of updated regulations.

Valones commended RDO No. 36 for their efforts in addressing the knowledge gap among taxpayers in this regard.

“Ang pinakakalaban natin diyan yung information dissemination. Pag di mo alam, sasablay ka sa complianceang [BIR] before may online seminars na ginawa. Last year, I believe marami sila, sa isang buwan may tatlo o apat silang seminar na ginagawa to inform the taxpayers and the public kung ano yung upgrade sa tax laws natin ngayon,” Valones said.

(Our biggest challenge there is information dissemination. If you’re unaware, you’ll stumble in compliance. Before, the BIR conducted online seminars. Last year, I believe they had many, with three or four seminars each month, aimed at informing taxpayers and the public about the upgrades in our tax laws today.)