BIR padlocks department store in SouthCot

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 August) – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) closed down on Wednesday a major department store in Surallah town, South Cotabato province for alleged under-declaration of income.

Officials and enforcement personnel of BIR-111 District Office and Revenue Region No. 18 padlocked past 11 a.m. the three-story Maunlad Shopping Plaza along Allah Valley Drive in Surallah town for violation of Section 115 of Republic Act (RA) 8424 or the amended National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.

Noel Gonzales, BIR-111 revenue district officer, said the establishment understated its taxable sales or receipts in the last two years, resulting in an assessed tax delinquency of around P33.2 million.

“This (delinquency) is the biggest so far in the region’s history,” he told reporters in a briefing.

He said the closure of the department store, which is owned by JSL Maunlad Marketing Corporation, was based on the surveillance activities conducted by the agency since November last year.

Maunlad, which is the biggest department store in Surallah, started its operations in May 2017. It employs around 70 regular workers.

The official said they issued several compliance notices to the establishment as part of due process before endorsing its closure to their central office under the flagship “Oplan Kandado.”

It underwent the mandatory review by the Regional Review Board prior to the issuance of the closure order by the BIR central office, through Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa of its Operations Group, he said.

Under Section 115 of RA 8424, Gonzales said a business establishment may be closed down by BIR over its “failure to issue receipts or invoices; failure to file a value-added tax return; or understatement of taxable sales or receipts by 30 percent or more of the correct taxable sales.”

The agency considered Maunlad’s case as “unique” as its surveillance showed that it understated its income by as much as 80 percent through the supposed use of a point-of-sale or POS software.

Aileen Punzalan, BIR-111 assistant revenue district officer, said the POS software “automatically” generated receipts that only declared 20 percent of the department store’s income.

“It (software) is used in all computerized cash registers of the establishment,” she said.

Punzalan said they found the discrepancy and eventually validated it during the 15-day surveillance activity in November 2018.

Lorna Tobias, BIR-18 director, said they will next run after the Manila-based supplier of the computerized cash registers, which she declined to identify.

She said they will endorse the matter to their central office for further investigation and other appropriate actions.

“It’s possible that there are also business establishments in the region and even in other parts of the country that are using machines provided by this supplier,” she said.

Alvin Co, manager of the erring establishment, refused to issue any comment regarding its closure.

But he assured BIR personnel that they will immediately settle their delinquency to facilitate the reopening of the department store.

In June, BIR closed three branches or filling stations here and nearby Koronadal City of independent fuel firm Flying V due to the same violations.

The filling stations only reopened in late July after its owner settled their tax delinquency.

“We will continue to conduct the Oplan Kandado as a strategy to increase our collection and at the same time improve voluntary compliance among taxpayers,” Tobias said. (MindaNews)