Finance department expects P2.71T tax collection in 2021 as economy reopens further

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 10 2020 04:11 PM

BIR officials facilitate the filing of taxes on June 1, 2017. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez on Thursday said the government expects to collect some P2.71 trillion in taxes in 2021 as the Philippines continues to ease economic restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The figure is higher compared to the P2.51 trillion the government expected to collect this year, but about P400 billion lower than the P3.137 trillion tax collections in 2019, Dominguez said during budget deliberations in the Senate.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) "achieved pretty close to 95 percent" in collections, the Finance chief said.

"Anybody who hits 95 percent of the target is not so bad... It could have been better but they have a passing grade," he said.

But Sen. Grace Poe noted that while the BIR and BOC nearly reached 100 percent of their target, the agencies still lose billions due to "technical smuggling."

The BIR failed to get P95.68 billion, while the BOC's uncollected taxes are pegged at P30.73 billion, she said.

"The remaining 5 percent is still yielding a staggering amount which could help us," she said.

Dominguez said the BOC has been trying to "modernize and digitize operations" to minimize human intervention and the possibility of corruption in the agency.

The shift to a more modern collection scheme was slowed down by lawsuits from losing bidders, he said.

The Finance department is also pushing for the "swift" passage of the 2021 budget and 3 other bills that will help the government revive the Philippine economy stunted by the COVID-19 crisis.