Henares defends BIR's Tax Watch ads

by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 21 2014 01:54 PM | Updated as of May 21 2014 11:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares said that while it is still too early to know whether the BIR’s latest ad campaign has helped raise taxes, it has helped make professionals aware of their responsibility to pay the right taxes.

“We can really not know for sure yet whether the result comes out effectively… I would think there’s an effect in the sense that, like now because of the campaign, doctors are now becoming aware that this [is] their responsibility,” Henares told the Senate committee on ways and means.

She said that as a result of the ad campaign, the BIR has an ongoing dialogue with medical groups on their tax obligations.

“Now they become aware that this is their liability… The psychology of people [is such that] unless you’re at the edge, they don’t really mind us, they don’t really pay attention to taxes. All they would say is that, ‘I’m not a thief.’ But with the campaign, basically it opened the door to a discussion with the sector,” she said.

The committee took up the a resolution filed by Senator Nancy Binay calling for an investigation of the BIR’s “shame campaign” after the agency released an ad that showing how a doctor who was not paying the correct tax burdened those who do.

Henares said the ad is part of a “transparency campaign” designed to let people know about their tax obligations.

“We view it more like a transparency campaign, making people aware that— because everyone is saying that they’re paying the right taxes—by making people aware that not everyone is paying the right taxes and here the data,” she said.

Henares is pushing for the passage of a bill that will rationalize tax incentives, saying that the grant of incentives to big corporations is the main reason why the BIR fell short of its collection target last April even if tax collection in general rose.

“Based on our April collection, the one that really put us down [are] big corporations. That’s why ‘yung mga corporations sa urban area. The explanation there is a lot of these people have fiscal incentives. That’s why we’re pushing for the rationalization of fiscal incentives,” she said.