BIR, BoC monitor markets in GenSan for cigarettes with fake stamps

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 March)– Revenue and customs personnel here have widened their monitoring in the local markets for the presence of cigarette products that carry counterfeit or fake tax stamps.

Esmeralda Tabule, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)-Revenue Region 18 regional director, said Tuesday they are currently conducting inspections on commercial establishments in the area to check the status of their cigarette stocks.

She said the move is in connection with the recovery of around P215 million worth of cigarette products with counterfeit tax stamps from a warehouse along Aradaza Street in Barangay Lagao here last week.

BIR and Bureau of Customs (BoC) central office personnel seized 11,044 master cases of cigarette products manufactured by Mighty Corporation.

“It’s possible that part of these products were already distributed in the markets as the volume is really sizable,” Tabule told reporters.

Among those being checked by the agency are supermarkets, stores and other commercial outlets selling cigarettes, she said.

She said their personnel already found packs of cigarettes with fake stamps in an inspection on a local store.

On Monday, BIR-18 and BoC personnel here conducted an inventory of the seized cigarette products at the Sunshine Corn Mill Corp. warehouse.

Using mobile verification devices, Tabule said they confirmed that the BIR or tax stamps of the products were fake.

Those found with fake stamps were sealed packs of Mighty red and green, King Platinum, Marvel Filter Kings and Chelsea brands.

Tabule clarified that the recovered cigarette products, which were all manufactured in the country, were genuine and only their tax stamps were fake.

“After manufacture and packaging, the BIR stamps should be attached in each pack to represent the paid P30 excise tax. But the stamps we found attached to the products are fake,” she said.

Angelito Agulto, BoC port collector here, said that based on their initial assessment, the “evaded taxes” from the seized cigarette products could reach P165 million.

He said the P215 million initial assessed value of the products was based on their current market prices.

The official clarified that since the products were locally-manufactured, they were also shipped to the area through local carriers or shipping lines.

“So technically, these did not pass the BOC GenSan,” he said.

Agulto said the results of the inventory will be used by the BIR and BoC in the filing of appropriate charges against the owners of the recovered cigarette products. (MindaNews)