IBP asks SC: Nullify new BIR rule on self-employed professionals

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 11 2014 03:22 PM | Updated as of Apr 11 2014 11:22 PM

MANILA - On the heels of what critics call as the Bureau of Internal Revenue's (BIR) "shame campaign" against delinquent taxpaying self-employed professionals, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) took to the Supreme Court (SC) its opposition to the move.

Challenging the constitutionality of the finance department and BIR's Revenue Regulation (RR) No. 4-2014, dated March 3, 2014, the IBP filed a 36-page petition with the high court, urging the magistrates to nullify the said order.

Under RR No. 4-2014, self-employed professionals are required : (a) to submit an affidavit of fixed service rates and fees; (b) to register their appointment books containing the names of their clients, and dates and times of their meetings; and (c) to issue receipts even for pro bono or free services.

The IBP said that in issuing the regulation, the DOF and BIR "transgressed their constitutional and statutory boundaries" and "encroached upon the exclusive authority and jurisdiction" of the high court to promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, legal practice, and the legal profession as a whole.

The IBP also stressed that the assailed regulation "will directly impair the IBP's capacity to render free legal aid to indigent litigants and would hamper its efforts to eradicate the public's difficulty from accessing competent legal services, by imposing illegal restrictions and submission requirements which have no basis in law and jurisprudence."

The group also raised the issue of lawyer-client confidentiality which they say stands to be violated with the implementation of the regulation.

"This case deals with a matter of national constitutional significance -- that is, whether or not respondents, in the guise of implementing tax laws, transgressed their constitutional and statutory boundaries by compelling lawyers, who are prohibited by strict professional and ethical rules from publicizing their legal fees, the names of their clients, and the specific dates and times of their meetings or engagements, not to mention the limits of governmental intrusion into an individual client's right to privacy," the petition read.

The group sought the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the implementation of the regulation while the merits of the case is being heard by the SC.