Tulfo to BIR: Stop 'targeting' vloggers, go after oil smugglers instead

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2022 04:24 PM | Updated as of Aug 17 2022 01:03 PM

 Sen. Raffy Tulfo talks to reporters after a Senate hearing on Aug. 16, 2022. Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News
Sen. Raffy Tulfo talks to reporters after a Senate hearing on Aug. 16, 2022. Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) — Sen. Raffy Tulfo on Tuesday lashed out at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for allegedly "targeting" vloggers and online sellers for possible tax violations instead of going after big-time evaders.

"If we are really serious in collecting taxes to maximize state revenues, is it not better if we would concentrate on the big fishes, and not on some small fry kasi nga po barya-barya lang po ang kinikita ng mga vlogger and online sellers," Tulfo said during a hearing of the Senate panel on ways and means.

According to Tulfo, he received complaints from vloggers and online sellers that underwent investigation by the BIR.

While Tulfo acknowledged that all income earners should pay the corresponding taxes, he maintained that "the government must know their priorities."

"Alam naman po natin during pandemic, these are the people na nag-survive at nagdiskarte para kumita... Unahin po natin yung mga oil smuggler," he said. 

Prior to being a senator, Tulfo is known for his online show where he listens to various complaints and tries to resolve them.

He is said to have earned more than P2 billion from his YouTube channel, which has more than 24 million subscribers as of writing.

'MARKING' MODUS

Tulfo, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Energy, said billions of pesos annually could have been collected if the BIR is properly doing its job in preventing oil smuggling.

The first-time lawmaker also exposed an alleged scheme that allows oil importers to escape payments of correct tax dues.

Tulfo noted that under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, it is mandated that imported fuel is marked by the government using a special ink that signified correct tax payments.

"Kahit mayroon ng marking scheme, marami pa ring mga nakakalusot at nai-smuggle na oil dahil may mga times na hindi nilalagyan ng oil marking itong mga barge from big-time oil companies o di kaya ay hindi dine-declare lahat. Halimbawa, 1 out of 100 drums lang ang ide-declare at yung isa lamang ang malalagyan ng marking," Tulfo claimed.

The senator said government agencies must prioritize going after the mastermind of oil smuggling instead of targeting vloggers and online sellers with small earnings.

"Bakit hindi na lang bisitahin ng mga taga BIR o BOC ang mga bahay at katukin ang mga pinto ng mga big-time oil smugglers? Baka naman hindi nila ito kayang gawin dahil itong mga oil smugglers ang mismong kumakatok sa kanilang pinto every month to pay under the table," he said.

Tulfo said he plans to file a resolution to address the issues on alleged oil smuggling.

BOC REACTS

In a statement on Wednesday, Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz responded to Tulfo's pronouncements, saying that the BOC "is not going after online sellers."

"The BOC is properly collecting duties and taxes from oil importations through continuous implementation of the Fuel Marking Program, which is proven effective in plugging tax leakages," Ruiz added.

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