Latest Stories

Unpopular BIR notches solid gains



On the weekend before the April 15 tax return deadline, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) took an unusual step.

On top of publishing the usual list of the Top 500 corporate and individual taxpayers, it also published lists of top taxpayers per revenue region all over the country.

More than 120 lists of top taxpayers from more than 120 revenue district offices were uploaded to the BIR’s website with the intention not so much to praise the people on the list but to shame those who were not listed.

“By law, we have to publish the top taxpayers’ list every year, but this practice only captures the data from the largest taxpayers, and they are mainly from Metro Manila,” Revenue Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares told the Inquirer.

Who are paying

By publishing taxpayer lists by the region, the BIR hopes to give people ideas as to who in the country are the most faithful in settling their tax obligations.

And Henares hopes publishing the lists will serve as a disincentive to smaller cases of tax evasion that may be happening off the radar—amounts that, when added up, come up to billions of pesos in uncollected taxes.

In Cebu—the country’s second-wealthiest metropolitan area—for example, the largest taxpayer in the restaurant category paid P382,158.41 in taxes for 2012. One beauty treatment clinic paid taxes worth P161,464.64, while one pawnshop paid P20,145.05.

“What we’re saying to people is: ‘You know who the rich people in your cities, in your communities, are. If they’re not on these lists, you have to wonder why,’” Henares said. “The lists also serve as guides for our regional offices.”

From all indications, the BIR’s name and shame campaign—three years after the reactivation by the Aquino administration of the Run after Tax Evaders campaign—is working wonders for the government’s revenue collection efforts.

Narrowing gaps

To be sure, the BIR continues to miss its annual collection targets. But data gathered by the Inquirer show that the BIR has been progressively reducing its misses since President Aquino assumed office in 2010.

In 2009, the interagency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) gave the BIR a collection target of P798.4 billion. The BIR was able to collect only P750.2 billion, missing the goal by 6.03 percent.

In 2010—the first half of which was under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the second half under President Aquino—the DBCC assigned an P860.4 billion target to BIR. The revenue bureau collected P822.6 billion, missing the mark by 4.4 percent.

By 2011, the first full year of the Aquino administration, the gap between the BIR’s collection target and the actual collections had narrowed to 1.69 percent (goal of P940 billion against collections of P924.1 billion).

Last year, the BIR narrowly missed its goal by just 0.77 percent. Only P8.2 billion in uncollected revenues separated its actual collections of P1.057 trillion and its assigned target of P1.066 trillion. It was the narrowest gap and the best performance by the BIR since goal-setting started.

Large-scale evasion

More important, the days of large-scale corporate tax evasion seem to be behind the BIR now, especially with the growth in the payments of large corporations approximating the growth rate of the Philippine economy, an indication that companies are, more or less, paying what they should to the government.

“Last year, the nominal growth rate of the gross domestic product was at 8.6 percent,” Henares said. “But our collections grew by over 14 percent. The difference between those numbers is what is attributable to better tax administration.”

Outside the BIR’s Large Taxpayers’ Service (which lumps together corporations that supply 62 percent of the government’s revenues), payments by smaller taxpayers to regional offices are growing by an average of 20 percent annually, a sure sign, according to Henares,  that businessmen are more confident that their taxes will be spent wisely.


But Henares remains unpopular with businessmen, including bankers, company presidents and even the auditing and accounting communities. Several of them who were contacted by the Inquirer declined to speak about her policies on the record, but were nearly unanimous in complaining about her “aggressive” tax policies, often enforced with little consultation with them.

The unpopularity of Henares and the BIR will rise further with the measures currently being readied to improve tax collections. These include cross-checking the BIR’s taxpayer database with the lists held by the Professional Regulatory Commission, the Social Security System and other organizations whose rosters might yield clues to who else are evading taxes.

So far, the BIR’s style seems to be working. In both peso terms and percentage of economic output (the so-called tax effort), 2012 was the best year in the history of the revenue bureau, something Henares does not dwell on.

“There is a marked improvement, but there’s room for more,” she said. “Taxpayers are responding, but not as much as I want them to. It’s not yet at the level that would allow me to say we’re successful.”

First part of the article

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Bureau of Internal Revenue , Government offices and Agencies , Philippines , Tax collection , Taxes

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  2. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  6. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  7. Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  8. South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  9. Two Popes who would be saints
  10. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  4. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  5. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  6. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  7. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  8. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  9. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  5. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  6. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  7. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  8. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  9. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  10. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct


  • 12 dead, 96 injured in Holy Week accidents–NDRRMC
  • Filipino devotees re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • Rouhani talks peace, outreach at army parade
  • Rains, thunderstorms on Good Friday
  • Carbon monoxide leak suffocates 20 in Catbalogan City
  • Sports

  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Hopkins, 49, seeks win for the ageless
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Cannes film festival launches race for 2014 Palme d’Or
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford
  • Filipina Maryknoll sister honored for years of service
  • Marketplace