Staying true to the promise of the new administration’s fight against graft and corruption, Commissioner of Internal Revenue (CIR) Caesar Dulay recently issued Revenue Memorandum Order 40-2016 reminding revenue officials and those dealing with the BIR to observe the No Gift Policy.
Public office is a public trust
This latest order prohibits BIR officials and employees from accepting or soliciting gifts from anyone. It calls on them as public servants and professionals to adhere to the principle that public office is a public trust. As such, they are expected to promote the highest standard of ethics in public service and to perform their duties and responsibilities without expectation of any favor or material reward.
This RMO40-2016 is a reiteration of the No Gift Policy mandated in the following:
• Section 27, Article II of the 1987 Constitution
• Section 1, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution
• Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act)
• Presidential Decree 45 s. 1972 (making it punishable for public officials and employees to receive, and for private persons to give gifts on any occasion, including Christmas)
• Republic Act 6713 (code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees)
RA 6713 that took effect in February 1989 defines “gift” as “a thing or a right disposed of gratuitously, or any act of liberality, in favor of another who accepts it, and shall include a simulated sale or an ostensibly onerous disposition thereof.” It shall not include an unsolicited gift of nominal or insignificant value not given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, a favor from a public official or employee.
It also defines “receiving any gift” as “the act of accepting, directly or indirectly, a gift from a person other than a member of his family or relative as defined in the Act, even on the occasion of a family celebration or national festivity like Christmas, if the value of the gift is neither nominal nor insignificant, or the gift is given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, a favor.”
As the “Season of Giving” is just around the corner, BIR officials and employees are directed to immediately and politely return any gift that may be given to them. A violation of the policy, proven in a proper administrative proceeding, shall be punishable in accordance with the provisions of the applicable laws.
Reiteration of the provisions of RMC 39-2015 and RMC 80-2012
In line with the BIR’s efforts to uphold the delivery of quality service to all stakeholders, all BIR officials and employees performing frontline services were directed to strictly adhere to the provisions of RA 9485, otherwise known as the “Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007”. Frontline service, as defined in Section 4 of RA 9485, refers to “the process or transaction between clients and government offices or agencies involving applications for any privilege, right, permit, reward, license, concession, or for any modification, renewal or extension of the enumerated applications and/or requests, which are acted upon in the ordinary course of business of the agency or office concerned.”
Further, as mandated in RMC 80-2012, all applications and/or requests submitted to the appropriate BIR office shall be acted upon by the assigned officer or employee during the period stated in the Citizen’s Charter, which shall not be longer than five working days in the case of simple transactions, and 10 working days in the case of complex transactions from the date the request or application was received.
It has been observed, however, that CARs covering transactions on sale of real property, transfer, or assignment of stocks not traded in the stock exchange, transfers subject to donor’s tax, estate tax, and other taxes including documentary stamp tax related to the sale/transfer of properties are being issued well beyond the prescribed period. As a move to curb red tape related to the processing of the CARs covering the above transactions, the BIR issued RMO 41-2016 to reiterate and strictly implement the policy of issuing CARs within five days from the submission of complete documentary requirements. BIR officials and employees found to be in violation of this directive shall be subject to the administrative and criminal penalties enumerated under RA 9485.
With the issuance of the new RMO, it looks like the BIR has heeded the complaints regarding the inefficiency of some of its officials and employees. Consistent with President Rodrigo Duterte’s style of leadership, Commissioner Dulay is expected to strictly enforce the guidelines under the Updated BIR Citizens Charter.
Barely a month into office, Commissioner Dulay appears to take President Duterte’s earlier pronouncement — that the BIR is among the most corrupt government agencies – as a challenge to clean up the bureau. His efforts to streamline procedures, plug inefficiencies and minimize opportunities for corruption are promising steps. The public remains hopeful, and vigilant, as the new administration rolls out even more changes.
The author is a Manager with the Tax & Corporate Services division of Navarro Amper & Co., the local member firm of Deloitte Southeast Asia Ltd. – a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited – comprising Deloitte practices operating in Brunei, Cambodia, Guam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.