The heightened Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) digitalization transformation (DX) programs, complemented by its growing workforce of young and skilled professionals under the Duterte administration, enabled the agency to steadily improve its collection performance and broaden the taxpayer base in 2021.
In his report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay said 4.63 million business taxpayers were registered last year despite the pandemic, representing a 5.14-percent increase from the previous year’s 4.41 million registered businesses.
Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office, the BIR’s collection steadily grew from P1.58 trillion in 2016, to P1.78 trillion and P1.96 trillion in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
The highest so far was in the pre-pandemic year of 2019, when collections amounted to P2.19 trillion, before dipping to P1.96 trillion at the height of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global outbreak in 2020 and climbing back to P2.08 trillion in 2021.
Dulay said since the tax amnesty law took effect in 2018, the BIR was able to collect a total of P13.8 billion from 85,556 taxpayers that availed of the amnesty offered for tax on delinquencies and unsettled estate taxes as of June 2021.
Dominguez congratulated Dulay and the rest of the BIR for having “done a great job, particularly in introducing digital technology, which has really helped continue the tax collection effort, especially during the pandemic.”
With the BIR expanding the use of digital payment channels to settle tax dues, about P1.75 trillion or 84 percent of the P2.08 trillion tax collection last year was collected electronically, Dulay said.
The number of electronically filed tax returns of 23.78 million made up 93 percent of the 25.66 million filed returns in 2021, he added.
“We can attribute our improved performance to our DX programs as well as to our increasing number of young workers who are quicker and more adept at learning digital skills,” Dulay said.
He said from 9,626 employees in 2016, the BIR was able to expand its workforce to its current personnel strength of 13,818 workers, of whom 6,540 or 44 percent were hired from 2016 to 2021, net of separations (retirement and resignations).
Under its DX roadmap, the BIR has so far rolled out, among others, its Internal Revenue Integrated System (IRIS), which serves as the bureau’s central tool and repository to process taxpayer information; and the Enhanced Internal Revenue Stamps Integrated System (IRSIS), which is an application that manages the ordering, production, distribution, affixing and tracking of revenue stamps to monitor the proper payment of excise taxes on tobacco products.
New business registrations can now be done through the BIR’s web-based portal https://www.bir.gov.ph/newbizreg/ launched on June 1, 2021, Dulay said.
The BIR has also put in place its online application for tax clearance for bidding purposes and tax compliance verification certificate; the e-Personal Equity and Retirement Account System; and its eAppointment, which received around 90,000 bookings from May to December last year.
Dulay said a total of 76 BIR Offices in its Large Taxpayers Service and Revenue District Offices are using this system for frontline services and 14 Offices in the Assessment Section are using the system for virtual meetings.
The BIR also launched in June last year a single hotline number and its Chatbot “REVIE” on its website to assist taxpayers with general inquiries, on top of being able to email the bureau regarding their concerns.
It has also improved its Electronic Filing and Payment System (eFPS), Electronic Fund Transfer Instructions System (eFTIS), and other e-payment channels to make it easier for taxpayers to pay taxes online.
The BIR has also uploaded 100 percent of laws and legislative rulings, along with international tax affairs rulings issued from 2016 to the second quarter of 2021 on the BIR website, Dulay said.
As a result of these efforts, the BIR received several citations and awards, which include a resolution from the House of Representatives congratulating and commending the BIR and the entire economic team of President Duterte for collecting PHP1.96 trillion or 15.14 percent over the bureau’s target for the fiscal year 2020 despite the economic challenges of the pandemic.
The Civil Service Commission (CSC) also recognized the BIR as the top agency with the highest case resolution rate in 2021, while the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) lauded the bureau for strictly adhering to its “no cut off, no noon break” policy, Dulay said,*PNA