Online sellers, influencers need to pay taxes, says BIR

Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 04 2022 07:08 PM

A stall in Quezon City utilizes various online platforms to sell various Christmas decor on Sept. 1, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File
A stall in Quezon City utilizes various online platforms to sell various Christmas decor on Sept. 1, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is in talks with e-commerce giants like Lazada and Shopee on the collection of taxes for online sellers.

At the Philippine E-Commerce Summit in Pasay, BIR Commissioner Lilia Guillermo reiterated that all sellers must pay taxes, including those in the digital economy. However, she noted that many have yet to do so.

"There are initial observations and findings na talaga maraming (that there are many who were) non-compliant," revealed Guillermo.

She is urging online shopping platforms to give them data so proper taxes can be collected. 

Guillermo said some platforms were still studying this move as it might violate privacy laws.

"My strategy is to at least... [make a] memorandum of agreement with the Data Privacy Commission [that] giving data to BIR is not a privacy concern," Guillermo said as one solution to the issue.

She also mentioned that social media influencers, whether individuals or companies, must pay income tax and value-added tax. 

The BIR may soon issue a memo urging for the voluntary registration of influencers and those earning online.

"Kung ayaw nila mag-volunteer, then do not. Kami naman pupunta sa kanila. Audit na 'yan," the BIR chief asserted.

(If they won't volunteer, then don't. We'll go to them. We'll audit them.)

Guillermo is also hopeful for the passage of legislation to further help expand the tax base.

One measures seeks to allow taxes on digital services bought or subscribed in the Philippines from a company based abroad.

Guillermo said those which could be taxed included foreign digital services like "video and online games to webcasts and webinars, from music files and image files to online advertising spaces and from electronic market places to online training and yes, even the streaming services."

Some P11 billion can be added to the tax collection if amendments or changes are made, said Guillermo.

Meanwhile, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual supports legislation to help the government and small businesses further. 

He said the e-commerce economy has been growing exponentially during the pandemic and is now what he called the great equalizer because even the poor can transact online.

Pascual said DTI is helping small businesses so they can sell online properly, as well as market and produce their products well.

"We're creating this e-commerce platform that will provide them with onboarding facility so they'll be initiated to the digital world," Pascual said.


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