New bank secrecy law will hit only tax dodgers


THE government’s plan to lift the bank secrecy law will affect only those who are under investigation for tax evasion or fraud.

Paola Alvarez, the spokesperson of the Department of Finance (DOF), made this clear on Wednesday.

“What we are trying to get at is that if you honestly declare your taxes then you should not have any fear that the bank secrecy law will be lifted against you,” she said.

So the law, she explained will be lifted, only against those beings investigated for tax evasion or tax fraud.

Earlier, addressing the Financial Times-First Metro Philippines Investment Summit on Tuesday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd had indicated that the government is going to put “more effort” in tax collection. He also called for the Large Taxpayers Service (LTS) Unit of the Bureau of Inland Revenue (BIR) to increase its tax collection efficiency.

What the government now wants, Alvarez said, is to enable BIR to access bank records without going to court for permission. That means, it is made a policy that will be in the implementing rules of the BIR.

The proposal for granting BIR the power to lift the bank secrecy law, when a situation warrants it, is set to go to Congress before the end of next month (September) for legislation.

President Rodrigo Duterte had included bank secrecy law reform in his first State of the Nation Address last month.

The existing law, the Republic Act 1405, declares bank deposits confidential including investments in bonds issued by the government, its political subdivisions and its instrumentalities. It has been pointed out, in a recent report by a World Bank Group, as one of the strictest in the world that hampers the execution of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) compliance review programs.

The proposal to the Congress for revising the law runs along the recommendations made by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Department of Finance and multilateral organizations in order for strengthening the AMLA.


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