The Department of Finance (DoF) is confident the government’s revenue-generating agencies will reach their collection targets this year, citing their performance in 2016 and the ongoing reforms to improve efficiency.
In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said he is “pretty sure” the Bureaus of Customs (BoC) and of Internal Revenue (BIR) could hit their respective collection targets of P468 billion and P1.829 trillion this year.
The BoC was able to improve collections from P367.06 billion in 2015 to P398.41 billion in 2016, an increase of 8.5 percent or P31.35 billion.
As of February 19, the BoC’s year-to-date collection was up 13.3 per cent at P55.06 billion from P48.59 billion a year earlier.
Total collections of the BIR reached P1.58 trillion in 2016, up 9.31 percent or P134 billion from P1.44 trillion.
Year-to-date, the BIR collected P180.71 billion, up 12 percent from P202.44 billion.
“The BIR and the BoC are working quite hard and we’re pretty sure that they will hit their targets for this year,” Dominguez noted.
Sweeping reforms at the BIR and BoC are now being implemented to improve taxpayer satisfaction, arrest official corruption and restore public trust in the government’s main revenue-generating agencies, Dominguez said.
Both bureaus can carry out the reforms without the need for congressional approval, which is why the agencies starting putting them in place within the first six months of the Duterte administration.
But Dominguez pointed out the tax administration reforms at the BoC and BIR are not sufficient to overhaul the country’s outdated tax system and raise enough revenues to fund the administration’s massive infrastructure program and record investments in human capital and social protection for the country’s poor and vulnerable sectors.
The DoF needs to pursue tax policy reforms for the BIR and BoC to raise enough funds for the government’s ambitious public spending program to sustain high growth, Dominguez said.
This is why the DoF is pushing for lawmakers to pass the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), the first package of which is contained in House Bill 4774 that is now being studied by the House Committee on Ways and Means.
The congressional approval is crucial to the financial sustainability of the Duterte administration. It aims to correct our tax system’s “inherent flaws, such as non-indexation to inflation of rates and large scope of exemptions and special treatments that complicates tax administration” that have for long prevented the BIR and BoC from consistently meeting, much less surpassing, their annual revenue targets, Dominguez said.
The BIR has started expanding its Large Taxpayers Service to cover the top 3,000 corporations accounting for 75 percent of total tax revenues. It started simplifying forms and procedures for small taxpayers to encourage tax compliance and ease payments, along with improving its electronic payment systems and enforcing risk-based audits to make the tax process more transparent and easier for taxpayers to comply with, Dominguez said.
The BIR is also intensifying anti-corruption and tax evasion efforts, recruiting 12,000 young people of integrity and competence to fill the BIR’s large vacancy, he said.
The BoC is now completing the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Customs Modernization and
Tariff Act (CMTA) to further step up anti-corruption and anti-smuggling operations, while improving the facilitation of trade.
Electronic systems at the BoC are also being upgraded to pave the way for paperless transactions that will, in turn, reduce opportunities for corruption, Dominguez said.
Administrative reforms will be supplemented with more intensive border patrols and other measures to curb technical smuggling, including the use of fuel marking, he said.
Dominguez said the customs bureau is also eyeing to recruit about 3,000 young and talented people who are “willing to work in a corruption-free BoC.”