Government urged to punish 'joy reservers' instead of taxing online sellers

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 17 2020 05:22 PM

MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday urged government agencies to "respond" to emerging problems encountered by internet-based businesses instead of taxing small online sellers.

Joy reservers and "joy-dibbers" - or those who reserve items but cancel at the last minute - have been a problem for online sellers, Hontiveros said in an online webinar.

"Talong-talo, luging-lugi [ang mga sellers] kasi once mag-reserve or mine, kukunin na nung seller sa supplier then matetengga lang pala sa kanila so lalo silang malulugi," she said.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Bureau of Iternal Revenue (BIR) should protect online sellers and buyers from scams and "invest" in "making online selling a more secure experience for Filipinos," the senator said.

"Instead of imposing new obligations that may discourage online sellers, we should promote and protect online selling as a safe and efficient means of earning income for Filipinos," Hontiveros said.

"Malaki ang potensyal ng online selling makapagbigay ng kita sa mga nawalan ng trabaho, at dahil online ito at limited ang physical contact, pwedeng ligtas ito kumpara sa mga tradisyonal na trabaho," she said.

(Online selling has a great potential to provide income for those who lost their jobs, and since it's online and physical contact is limited, it might even be safer compared to traditional jobs.)

Hontiveros' statement comes a week after the BIR released a memo mandating online businesses to register and pay taxes despite the ongoing pandemic.

BIR officials have clarified that online businesses earning below P250,000 annually are exempted from the policy.

But several lawmakers continue to criticize the BIR's order, saying the government should go after Chinese-operated online gambling firms, instead of imposing dues on small Filipino businesses.