MY tax woes and the crises of development in Mandaluyong are two things I have written about in this space. Both continue to resonate for readers, if the emails and messages I continue to receive—months, years since—are any indication.
It was a relief to listen to incoming Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) chief Cesar Dulay speak on TV, about how he is no taxman, and only plans on cleaning up the bureau as per President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s orders. Dulay said that “he would remove opportunities for corruption in the agency, improve collection efficiency, and review current rules” (ABS-CBNnews.com, 13 June)
This comes at a time when I can only really say about my continuing bout with the BIR: na-KimHenares ako. Or better yet: nagdusa sa daang matuwid. And if the messages I’ve received from readers are any indication: hindi ako nag-iisa.
The President-elect says he wants swift public service from offices like the BIR, with documents released within 72 hours. First, he must change the rules.
In my case: I was charged P60,000 in penalties for a business that closed down in 2003. But you cannot just go to the BIR and pay that total amount.
First, you need to print out a form (in triplicate) for every month you failed to pay—that’s approximately 432 forms for me. Second, you fall in line to have those forms stamped, which happens in 5’s or 10’s, depending on the mood of the BIR employee. Third, you need to fall in line to have those stamped forms signed—again, the number of forms signed per day depends on the mood of your friendly BIR employee.
Once signed, you go to the bank to pay up. But you can’t just bring these forms and pay in bulk. The bank will only receive 10 forms per day from one payee.
Suffice it to say that by the time my penalties were paid, we had crossed over from 2015 to 2016.
Revise the rules
Between you and the BIR people you’ve talked to, the business has closed down. But as far as BIR computers are concerned, even as you’ve already paid the penalties, it’s still an open business. So now you need to submit your business’s old papers (books, receipts, business registration); if you are without that—as you probably are—then you submit affidavits of loss for each document they are asking for, and then declare it closed.
The process isn’t over: with business closed, and having transferred to Mandaluyong since 2008, I needed to apply for a change in registration from sole proprietorship to professional, and a change in address. That means a whole new set of papers: a certificate of employment, never mind that you are technically never employed because you are always contractual; proof that you live in your parents’ home; proof that you are being allowed by your parents to use their address as yours; an Official Tax Receipt from the city hall—all toward getting an Authority to Print for your tax receipts and a Certificate of Registration in your new RDO.
And while you’re thankful that the people in RDO 41 are so much kinder in dealing with people and just do better public service all around, there is no doing things better with these current BIR rules. RDO 41’s Ma’am Myrna Salazar might be the kindest, most patient, government worker I’ve met, but there is no making her life, or the taxpayer’s life, easier when the processes are just too long, the requirements too many. The BIR wastes paper like it doesn’t care for trees.
It’s because of this that incoming BIR chief Dulay’s promise to review the rules is a great thing to hear—it will already be so much kinder than Henares’s insistence on the rules, no matter how unkind, no matter how oppressive, especially for those who are earning an honest living, not at all big tax evaders (none of whom, by the way, were caught under the Henares regime).
Another suggestion: tax amnesty, please! Because if the messages I’ve received are any indication, then there’s a good chunk of the population wanting to re-enter the tax system, but are just without the capacity to pay and the stamina for going through these long-drawn out processes. Tax amnesty for the middle to poorer classes would be the ultimate act of kindness.
Manda’s continuing crises
Speaking of kindness, one can’t help but feel oppressed by living on this patch of residential Mandaluyong. Not only have we continued to deal with the noise coming from the Ayala Land development on Shaw Blvd. corner Samat, now the city hall itself is making it more expensive to even live where we do.
In 2014, it decided to disallow us from turning left into Wack-Wack Road from Shaw Blvd; instead, we are to turn left into Cardinal Sin Road. This meant traveling two kilometers instead of the mere 714.84 meters to get to Lopez Rizal.
This week, Dr. Jose Fernandez was turned into a one-way street. Which means that if I wanted to go to Shaw Blvd. toward Kalentong, I would need to travel 1.47 kilometers, going around to Amarillo St., in order to get out via S. Laurel. That’s almost double the distance from the original 873 meters I needed to travel down Lopez Rizal, through Dr. Jose Fernandez and Nueve de Pebrero.
As with the 2014 decision (which was “solved” by the city hall promising to give residents on our street stickers that would allow us to continue turning into Wack-Wack Road from Shaw—stickers that never came), this 2016 decision sacrifices the residents who have lived on these smaller roads all their lives. Not only are we going to be spending double on our gas because we have to travel double the original distance; those who commute will also be charged more by our tricycle drivers.
It is absolutely unfair that these streets are being closed to us. These streets are narrow precisely because this is a residential area, and it’s supposed to serve those who live here. Turning Dr. Jose Fernandez into a one-way street is a disservice, plain and simple. It also reveals that the residents are not the Mandaluyong City Hall’s priority.
Which begs the question: if we, the people, are not the city hall’s priority, then who does it serve exactly?