Philippines: Taxes from digital channels surge 92% in 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) through its electronic channels jumped by almost two-fold to P1.2 billion in 2019 following the launch of an online facility linked to the central bank’s PESONet, the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday.

Citing the latest data from the BIR, the DOF said tax payments collected through digital channels in 2019 surged by 92 percent to P1.2 billion in 2019 from P626.35 billion in 2018.

The BIR also reported that the number of electronic transactions last year reached 446,753, up by 60 percent from the 278,602 transactions done through e-channels in 2018.

BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa said the number of tax payments processed online increased significantly following the launch of its facility which uses the PESONet fund transfer service last Aug. 15, 2019.

Aside from this, he said electronic payments were made through the Union Bank Online Tax Payment Facility using automated teller machines (ATMs) or debit cards, and the PayMaya smartphone application.

For 2020, Guballa said the BIR is targeting to further simplify its application forms, reduce documentary requirements and shorten processing time, to enhance the delivery of the bureau’ frontline services and help improve the ease of doing business.

PESONet is one of the automated clearing houses of the National Retail Payment System (NRPS), allowing fund transfer processed in bulk and cleared at batch intervals from one account to one or several accounts maintained in different banks.

According to the DOF, PESONet has over 40 participating banks under its system.

The DOF said the government aims to shift over 15 million over-the-counter tax payment transactions annually to this online payment service, in line with its drive to cut red tape and improve the ease of doing business in the country.

Finance undersecretary Antonette Tionko, head of the DOF’s Revenue Operations Group (ROG), said this represents more than 80 percent of the total number of tax payment transactions processed by the BIR each year.

Tionko said this would make tax payments more convenient, efficient and less costly for taxpayers, and at the same time, save the BIR P230 million yearly in transaction fees.

She said transaction fees under the PESONet-enabled facility costs only P25 as compared to the P40 fee charged by authorized agent banks.