The Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) 2020 tax-collection goal has been further reduced to P1.74 trillion—lower than its actual 2019 take—amid a COVID-19-induced recession that had shut down many firms, leaving millions of Filipinos jobless and without income.

Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay said in Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) No. 16-2020 that the updated 2020 target assigned to the country’s biggest tax-collection agency reflected last month’s decision of the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) to cut this year’s total tax and non-tax revenue program to P2.61 trillion, down 16.7 percent from actual revenues of P3.14 trillion last year.

Last March, the DBCC earlier on downscaled the BIR’s 2020 target to P2.26 trillion from P2.58 trillion originally in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy.

In 2019, the BIR’s collections hit a record P2.18 trillion, up 11.5 percent from 2018’s P1.95 trillion but 4.2-percent below its P2.27-trillion goal.

The bulk or P1.7 trillion of the BIR’s updated 2020 tax-collection program will still be sourced from its operations—P902.1 billion from taxes on net income and profits; P340.8 billion from value-added tax (VAT); P193.8 billion from excise taxes; P128 billion from percentage taxes; and P135.3 billion from other taxes.

The remaining P44 billion expected to be collected this year would come from non-BIR operations.

As of end-April, the BIR’s tax take dropped 20.5 percent year-on-year to P559.3 billion—during the month of April alone, collections slid 61.6 percent to P90.5 billion.

Historically, the BIR’s collection surged in April, as the Tax Code mandated filing and payment of the previous year’s income tax returns (ITR) on or before April 15.

But due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the BIR had moved the 2019 ITR deadline three times before finally settling on June 15, as the government had also been prolonging the quarantine, which imposed movement restrictions, since mid-March up to present.

Last Tuesday, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said preliminary data showed revenues collected by the BIR and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in May were “around 50-percent lower than last year’s.”

Dominguez said the end-May revenue collections figures were expected to be “not very pretty.”


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