MANILA, Philippines — Social distancing and transportation restrictions during the COVID-19 lockdown have forced the majority of taxpayers to settle their dues digitally, with over three-fourths of the internal revenue tax take as of mid-June collected electronically.

Citing a preliminary report from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the Department of Finance said Tuesday that 77 percent of total BIR collections during the period Jan. 1 to June 15 were e-payments, although the DOF did not say the amount.

To recall, June 15 was the cutoff date to file and pay 2019 income tax returns (ITRs) after the mandatory April 15 deadline had been extended three times due to the quarantines imposed to contain COVID-19.

The BIR had enjoined paying taxes through its electronic filing and payment system (eFPS) as well as other digital platforms such as PesoNet, Land Bank of the Philippines’ Link.BizPortal, Development Bank of the Philippines’ PayTax Online, UnionBank Online, GCash, and PayMaya.

BIR data showed that in terms of number of compliant taxpayers, e-filers accounted for 58 percent of total last year, up from 55 percent in 2018, 46 percent in 2017, 35 percent in 2016, and 25 percent in 2015.

“This marks a major breakthrough for the BIR as the tracking data show that more taxpayers filed electronically or online as compared to those who did so by manual filing in 2019,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said.

“That there are more people who filed their taxes electronically than those who filed their tax returns manually even before COVID-19 struck this year proves that the government has started to reap the fruits of the BIR’s nonstop efforts under the Duterte watch to make tax compliance more convenient and accessible for our taxpayers,” Dominguez added.

Last week, Dominguez said the taxes paid through electronic channels in 2019 amounted to P1.8 trillion or 84 percent of the BIR’s total collections last year.

The BIR had been embarking on a roadmap aimed at making the country’s biggest tax-collection agency a “digitally transformed institution, providing convenient, reliable and transparent services to taxpayers, resulting in more resources to provide comfortable and secure lives for Filipinos” by 2030.


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