Biz chamber president in NorthCot accuses BIR of collecting excessive taxes

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 5 Feb) – A businessman who represents the business chamber in North Cotabato has accused the revenue district office here for allegedly extorting them money by charging excessive taxes, an allegation the Bureau of Internal Revenue denied.

Dr. Ramon Floresta, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Cotabato chapter, said Tuesday that his group could no longer understand the system in paying their alleged tax delinquencies the Revenue District Office 108 has imposed against them, especially in the case of small-scale entrepreneurs.

Floresta said a small businessman in the city is charged P1 million to P5 million for tax delinquencies; a medium-scale entrepreneur, from P10 million to P15 million; and large-scale industries have to pay the BIR non-payment of taxes from P50 million to P100 million.

But Eddie Castillo, head of RDO 108, said they have not increased rates, except that they are now more closely monitoring the businessmen’s books of accounts.

Floresta said that the figures he mentioned were their alleged delinquencies for 2017. “Now the BIR examiners are scrutinizing our books for 2018. With that, how much are we going to pay?” he complained.

He cited as an example the more than P30-million in taxes the BIR has levied against his son who, like him, is also a trader doing business in North Cotabato.

“When the BIR examiners checked the records or books of my son’s business, he was supposed to pay only P300,000. But the BIR taxed him as high as P30 million,” Floresta lamented.

Floresta said their tax woes started when a new head took over the district revenue office here.

“For the longest time, we could carry the burden of the SOP (standard operating procedure) that the BIR was asking from us. The amount ranged from P500,000 to P1 million. But now, we’re [already] talking tens of millions,” he said.

Floresta described the SOP as “under the table” negotiations.

Worse, he said, the BIR examiners were apparently using President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program when they collect the fees.

Floresta said they already filed complaint against the revenue district office here at the Office of the President in Malacañang.

He said the complaint letter was handed to Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go when he visited the province early January and a copy was also sent to Malacañang through a commercial logistics service courier.

But BIR’s Castillo denied the allegations hurled against him and his office by the PCCI Cotabato.

Castillo told media that the business people were only charged taxes that were due them.

“We did not increase taxes. Whatever is in their records, sales, that’s just what’s being taxed. Yes, taxes are high, maybe because things seem new to them. In the past, they’re not being closely monitored. Our examiner’s order now is to verify the taxpayers’ books. But these businessmen were given opportunities to rebut our reports,” said Castillo.

He explained that they now resort to collecting fees from the business community because private employees whose annual salaries are less than P250,000 are no longer deducted of their withholding taxes, which is part of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

As to alleged corruption, he said this is “highly improbable” as tax payments are done through banks.

“We don’t handle cash. What we give the taxpayers is the payment form, and then they pay directly through banks,” Castillo stressed.

He said his office has already been informed of the complaints from the business people.

“But we have to strictly implement what we were supposed to do as tax collectors,” he stressed.

On Tuesday, the PCCI in North Cotabato organized a tax forum where they discussed their issues against the BIR.

Floresta said the forum was aimed at empowering the business community by giving them the right information on the government’s new taxation system. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)