Our country runs on our taxes. From the public hospitals offering cheaper service to the roads to and from far-flung villages, the government collects money from all sorts of transactions we have. But are all taxes filed and collected properly?
The answer to that may be both yes or no. The fact that the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the main agency responsible for collecting taxes and enforcing tax laws, estimates that 80 billion pesos remain uncollected for the past decade.
One main causes of having a large amount of uncollected taxes is because there are not enough solutions or systems in place. But since then, the bureau and the national government has been improving tax collection with the help of modern technology.
Changing for Better
As JuanTax founder Marvin Galang described during the 110th Philippine Dental Association Annual Convention on May 13 to 17, “tax done right is understanding and accepting that change is unstoppable.” Hence despite the change being immense, it is still expected to be embraced by many.
Incoming PDA President Dr. Stephen Almonte also seconded Mr. Galang’s passion. He mentioned that “This is an eye opener. To know the initiatives and strategies the BIR has given us, dentists and business owners, a sense of hope and relief.”
The same quote could be said for the bureau’s effort to make tax filing more accessible and convenient. As in the end, the tedious works and efforts for a change is for the benefit of the Filipino people.
BIR Goes Electronic
In April 2019, JuanTax was certified as the country’s first eTSP (Electronic Tax Software Provider) provider in the Philippines. This means taxpayers can now file their taxes from their home using their computer or mobile device via JuanTax, an online and cloud-based tax-filing software.
It is still estimated that 83% of Filipinos file their taxes manually where they go to their respective BIR district office, fill out the necessary physical forms, then pay over the counter. The software provides a complete end-to-end tax filing process where there will be zero contact between the taxpayer and a BIR official.
Paying can also be done electronically with the help of Authorized Agent Banks or banks that are BIR-certified to be used in tax-paying via eTSP. Other eTSP providers like JuanTax will also be launched soon since some have a still pending approval from BIR.
The certification system is a collaborative effort between the BIR and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
This is in line with the bureau’s Strategic Plan 2019-2023 that was announced in their Revenue Memorandum Order 21-2019. The plan seeks to adapt to modern technology to improve tax-related processes.
The 4th and 5th goals in the plan are to “improve assistance and enforcement processes” and “build and deploy contemporary information technology systems, processes, and tools,” respectively.
The Road to 100% Tax Compliance
There are many objectives in the plan which shows the bureau’s plan to modernize its current tax filing and payment system.
Program 4.6 under the 4th goal aims to “continue to develop electronic service channels and other processes to support taxpayer interactions” via, for example, the E-Invoicing/Receipting and eSales Reporting System.
What this does is to provide a platform that will process, store, and summarize electronic invoices and receipts in real time. This will be helpful for both the government and business owners since all tax-related information that will be used to file one’s annual income tax return will be in one place and categorized appropriately.
Meanwhile, the emergence of JuanTax and other third-party eTSP providers are part of Program 5.8 under the 5th goal. It targets to make an “Information and Communications Technology
(ICT) Solutions for Improved Taxpayer Services.”
Given that JuanTax is online, the provider also made their service cloud-based meaning all information are saved online securely. This is also in line with the program’s implementation of a “disaster recovery system.”
All these are just a few of the many goals and programs that will establish a better tax system for the next 5 years and so on. Just like the purpose of Program 4.9 under the 4th goal or the “Digital Transformation” objective, the goal is to create a truly “client-first and digital-first tax administration”.