Hontiveros seeks suspension of tax on online sellers until end of 2020

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 23 2020 11:31 AM

Sen. Risa Hontiveros speaks during a Senate hearing on January 20, 2020. Senate PRIB

MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros has filed a resolution urging the Bureau of Internal Revenue to suspend its planned collection of taxes from online sellers until the end of 2020.

The BIR needs to clarify its memo on the registration and taxing of online businesses, especially after several government agencies gave different statements about the policy, Hontiveros said in her Senate Resolution No. 453.

"It is best for everybody's interests if the BIR suspends the implementation of the memo until December 31, 2020, while government agencies review and craft better policy guidelines on how online entrepreneurs should register or pay taxes," she said.

The BIR should also craft a "digital platform for registration" instead of asking business owners to line up in offices for the registration during the global pandemic, Hontiveros said.

"Requiring people to congregate at the BIR’s offices likewise exposes them to the health risks associated with COVID-19 and might also lead to further spreading the disease and prolonging the pandemic," she said.

The Senate also needs to investigate the propriety and timing of BIR's policy on online sellers as the taxing scheme resulted to an "outcry from subsistence entrepreneurs and other netizens" who were just "trying to earn a living in the middle of the lockdown," Hontiveros said in her Senate Resolution No. 453.

"With unemployment at record levels and restrictions on movement due to the pandemic still in place, many Filipinos, to survive and provide for their families, have been left with no option but to sell their goods and services online," she said.

Malacañang earlier clarified that the tax would only apply to online businesses earning beyond P250,000 annually.

"Kung hahabulin ng pamahalaan ang malalaking digital entrepreneurs, dapat siguraduhing hindi nito pahihirapan ang maliliit na online seller na dumidiskarte ngayon para kumita," Hontiveros said in a separate statement.

(If the government plans to go after large digital entrepreneurs, they should make sure that it will not be at the expense of small online sellers who are trying to earn during this pandemic.)

"Our revenue policies should be sensitive to the struggles of Filipinos trying to make ends meet in these difficult times," she said.