Why BIR came out with 'controversial' tax ad

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 04 2014 12:58 PM | Updated as of Mar 05 2014 05:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue on Tuesday defended a "controversial" print ad showing a doctor not paying the correct taxes.

In an interview on ANC's Headstart, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said the ad does not single out medical doctors, but all those who have failed to pay the correct taxes.

The ad showed a doctor, who paid only P7,000 in income taxes on P1 million income, sitting on the shoulders of a teacher who earned less but paid more than P200,000 in taxes. It also had the caption: "When you don't pay your taxes, you're a burden on those who do."

On Monday, the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) called the ad as "absolutely unfair" in depicting doctors as tax cheats.

"The whole ad is talking to those who are not paying the right taxes. You should be ashamed or embarrassed to those who are paying the right taxes, that's the whole message... It can be a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, anyone on top who do not pay the right tax," she said.

In defending the ad, Henares said the BIR was just making a "statement of fact."

"May saying, 'bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan wag magalit.' If you're paying the right taxes, then it's not alluding to you. If you're not paying the right taxes then it's talking to you. It depends now on your action," she said.

Henares said the BIR ad showed real income tax payments by a doctor and a teacher.

"I'm not making a generalization. The ad is just saying, yung figure dun came from a real doctor, yung figure dun came from a real teacher so kung nagbabayad sila ng tamang buwis, wala silang problema, kung hindi sila nagbabayad ng tamang buwis, sila ang may problema," she added.

The PMA, she said, should police its own ranks and ensure doctors are paying the correct taxes.

"Isa lang naman ang dapat gawin ng PMA, police their rank. Siguraduhin ang ranggo nila na mga doctor ay rehistrado at mag-issue ng resibo at magbayad ng tamang buwis. Parati naman nila sinasabi sa atin na cre-create sila ng committee e ilang taon na ba yang committee na yan, meron na bang resulta," she said.

PMA president Leo Olarte earlier assured the BIR that the PMA will “not tolerate tax cheats among our ranks and we will act immediately if these isolated cases can be brought formally to our attention.”