Tulfo slams BIR for targeting vloggers, online sellers

August 16, 2022 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 89 views

Tax agency told to go after ‘big fish’

SENATOR Raffy Tulfo slammed the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Tuesday following complaints from a vlogger and an online seller that some agents from the agency visited their homes and knocked on their doors to inquire about their tax payments.

Tulfo, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, stressed that if the government really wants to collect serious money through taxation, its focus should be on the “big fish”, like bigtime oil smugglers, and not on some small fry.

He said that “billions of pesos” annually could have been collected if only the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is properly doing its job in preventing oil smuggling.

“Bakit di nila unahing habulin ang mga big-time oil smugglers na limpak-limpak na pera ang pwede nilang makolekta kumpara sa mga vloggers at individual online sellers na alam naman nilang barya-barya lamang ang makokolekta nila?” he asked.

While he acknowledges that Filipinos who earn should pay the corresponding taxes as stated by the law, Tulfo maintained that “the government must know their priorities if their intention is to maximize state revenue through taxation.”

It can be noted that the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law mandates fuel marking to reduce oil smuggling in the country, wherein imported fuel is marked by the government using special ink that signifies payments of correct tax dues.

To help prevent oil smuggling and ensure that marker is added to the fuel accurately, the government entered into a contract with Switzerland-based inspection services provider Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS).

Tulfo, however, expressed doubts over the technology provider, considering that oil smuggling continues to run rampant despite its existence.

“Justifiable ba yang contract kung laganap pa din ang oil smuggling sa bansa? The government should consider developing the same technology and training our people to operate it para makatipid tayo properly,” he suggested.

On the marking scheme, Tulfo lamented: “Kahit mayroon ng marking scheme, marami pa ring mga nakakalusot at nai-smuggle na oil dahil may mga times na hindi nilalagyan ng oil marking itong mga barge from big-time oil companies o ‘di kaya ay hindi dine-declare lahat. Halimbawa, 1 out of 100 drums lang ang ide-declare at yung isa lamang ang malalagyan ng marking.”

“Isa pang rampant ay itong tinatawag na ‘Paihi’ kung saan doon pa lamang sa laot ay tina-transfer na yung mga oil sa barko papunta sa mga barge at dine-deliver sa oil depot,” he added.

The senator from Isabela said this reality should prompt BIR and BOC to prioritize going after the mastermind of oil smuggling instead of targeting vloggers and online sellers with small earnings.

“Bakit hindi na lang bisitahin ng mga taga-BIR o BOC ang mga bahay at katukin ang mga pinto ng mga big-time oil smugglers? Baka naman hindi nila ito kayang gawin dahil itong mga oil smugglers ang mismong kumakatok sa kanilang pinto every month to pay under the table,” he said.

In the coming weeks, Tulfo said he will file a resolution “in aid of legislation” to address the issue head-on and find out the people or groups behind oil smuggling.