MANILA, Philippines – Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares said customs brokers and importers are required to get clearance from the BIR before they can transact with the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to help boost government’s drive against smuggling.
Henares said the new requirements will ensure that customs brokers and importers are involved in legitimate businesses.
"Kung talagang nagnenegosyo kayo, every month nagfa-file kayo ng tax returns, at every quarter nagfa-file kayo ng income tax returns. Ginagamit ‘yung records ng BIR para masigurado na talagang kayo ay lehitimong importer o kaya lehitimong customs broker,” she told dzMM on Thursday.
Henares also clarified that the BIR will only give clearances to importers and brokers through the Importer Clearance Certificate or the Broker Clearance Certificate, and it is the BOC that will give the accreditation.
"Hindi kami nag a-accredit. Ang requirement ng Bureau of Customs bago sila ma-accredit ng Customs ay kailangang pumunta sila ng Bureau of Internal Revenue at kumuha sila ng clearance na talagang nagbabayad sila ng buwis,” she said.
Customs brokers are opposing the new directive issued by the Department of Finance, with some going on indefinite holiday starting Thursday to show their protest.
The brokers said they are willing to comply, but they should be given more time to secure the requirements.
The new accreditation rules will be implemented on June 30. Those who fail to file the proper application with the BIR and the BOC before this date will result to an automatic cancellation of their accreditation.
But according to Henares, brokers and importers had ample time to apply for accreditation since the memorandum was issued in December last year.
She also disputed claims of customs brokers, led by Aduana Business Club Inc. president Mary Zapata, that securing the requirements is difficult.
Aside from the BIR clearance, brokers are required to secure a clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation, and a certificate of true copy (CTC) from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the customs brokerage firm’s registration, among others.
Zapata, meanwhile, said a stricter accreditation process does not guarantee a halt to smuggling cases, citing the lax policies during the administration of the late President Cory Aquino.
“[Before], basta anybody who can import and pay the duties in taxes can freely bring in any commodity. And if you can compare the situation then, wala namang ganoong kadaming skandalo sa smuggling. Ngayon na napakahigpit nila sa accreditation, ngayon din napakadaming smuggling cases at problema sa BOC,” she said.
She also noted that the customs brokers and importers were not consulted over the new directive.
The DOF earlier said the directive is applicable only to those importers and brokers who got accredited without obtaining the BIR clearance.
“The DOF reminds brokers and importers that the deadline for application of accreditation of importers and customs brokers, in accordance with Department Order No. 33-2014 is 30 June 2014, or the original expiration of their Customs accreditation, whichever comes earlier,” the DOF said.