BIR targets tax-evading celebrities

Posted at 07/06/2010 11:47 AM | Updated as of 07/06/2010 12:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines - In an effort to increase tax collections, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Tuesday said it is targeting self-employed workers, including celebrities who do not regularly remit taxes to the government.

Speaking with Karen Davila on ANC's Headstart on Tuesday, BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto Henares said self-employed workers are the biggest tax evaders in the country in terms of warm bodies.

"I am targeting everyone who has an income or a business but does not report it. But in terms of amount of money, I'm sure there are a lot of corporations that do not pay the right taxes. If you compute it, it would be a large amount," she said.

She added that the tax bureau will especially monitor showbiz personalities who are considered self-employed but have varying levels of income.

"For celebrities, it's easier if they are reporting it or not. You just watch the TV, look at billboards or the magazines. It's easy to monitor their income," she said.

She added that some of the country's top individual taxpayers are celebrities including boxer Manny Pacquiao, Willie Revillame, Piolo Pascual and Kris Aquino.

Henares said the BIR is also eyeing a review on existing excise taxes on "sin products" such as alcohol and cigarette products. She said the sin tax capture bracket has too many rates, which should be simplified.

"I think there should be a rationalization of rates to make the implementation of the law simpler," she said.

She also proposed that sin taxes have an indexing feature that adjusts collections yearly to reflect movement in market prices. She said that while sin products make adjustments in prices, collections are basically the same.

Henares said the BIR's adjusted collection target of P830 billion this year would be "difficult, but doable."

VAT on toll

Henares said the bureau is also eyeing the immediate implementation of the value-added tax on tolls, which it has been trying to do since 2005.

Under the law, all motorists should be charged 12% VAT on toll. She said, however, that the VAT on tolls was not imposed because of lobbying by various groups including the Toll Regulatory Board.

"It's not a new tax. It's something that should have been implemented in 2005," she said, adding that the government could raise P1 billion in collections monthly from the VAT.

Henares, meanwhile, opposed a proposal to add taxes on text messages, saying that President Benigno Aquino has already promised that there would be no new taxes.

The new BIR chief said she already reminded her employees to "walk the talk" and not accept bribes in order not to lose their jobs.

"We have to walk the talk. We play a very important role. What we are doing is not for ourselves but for 90 million people, especially the poor," she said. -- by David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com