BIR targets fake receipts, illegal cigarettes

Bureau of Internal Revenue

The Bureau of Internal Revenue on Monday revealed that it would file numerous lawsuits against those responsible for fake receipts and illegal cigarettes.

In a statement, BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. said the tax agency is in the process of building up cases against fraudulent receipt manufacturers and illegal cigarette traders.

“I’m with you in running after the tax evaders, just let us know the difficulties that you are encountering and we will give all the support that you need,” Lumagui said in a recent conference with the BIR legal group.

The government’s top tax official said he “has been a supporter of bold tax enforcement activities,” adding that syndicates behind fraudulent receipts and illicit cigarettes continue unabated.

As part of his campaign against fraudulent traders, Lumagui oversaw the BIR’s first-ever simultaneous statewide trade enforcement against the illegal cigarette trade earlier this year.

The BIR pounced on wholesalers and merchants selling illegal cigarettes in 21 provinces, 69 cities, and municipalities nationwide, seizing millions of pesos worth of untaxed, counterfeit, and smuggled cigarettes.

It estimates that the illegal tobacco trade is costing the government between P50 billion and P100 billion in tax revenues that might be used to pay for essential services like the Universal Health Care program and other national development objectives.

Lumagui led the actions along with the OIC-Deputy Commissioner for Operations Maridur Rosario, the appropriate revenue regional directors, regional investigations chiefs, and revenue officers. This was the first time that synchronized enforcement took place across the entire nation.

“Let me make this clear to you illegal traders. This is just the beginning of our simultaneous nationwide operations. We are serious about our crackdown against the illicit cigarette trade. We will be strict on implementing the law from hereon,” Lumagui said.

BIR to tax online sellers

Meanwhile, BIR earlier this week said it wanted to increase the effectiveness of tax collection from online vendors using e-commerce platforms.

According to Lumagui, keeping track of taxes paid by specific internet vendors on e-commerce platforms is challenging.

The BIR, he said, is prioritizing finding better ways to collect taxes from online retailers and other innovative platforms this year.

Due to the pandemic, many business owners are now selling their products online using e-commerce sites like Shopee and Lazada and social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

According to Lumagui, the BIR will work with social media influencers to inform the public about the value of filing taxes.

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