MANILA, Philippines—Some doctors are forgetful or are just poor in math when preparing their income tax returns.
Either way, they are not intentionally paying miniscule taxes, the head of the Philippine Medical Association said Thursday.
PMA head Leo Olarte said some doctors might be paying smaller taxes than those paid public school teachers but he said this was “unintentional.”
Olarte said the physicians may have forgotten to pay the right taxes or made mistakes in computing the taxes that they should pay the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
“That could be true since that came from the BIR,” Olarte said in an interview, referring to the BIR report that one doctor in Makati City paid only P10 in annual income taxes last year while another physician paid P82.50, less than the price of a cup of coffee in some shops.
“However, there is no intention to evade paying taxes. There are some who do not know the computation on how to pay the right taxes,” Olarte said. “The computation is somewhat complicated. Or sometimes, they get so busy that they forget.”
In an ad published in newspapers on Wednesday, the Department of Finance said public school teachers appeared to be making more money than half of the lawyers and doctors in Makati City as shown by their tax returns.
The ad showed 54 percent of all self-employed doctors, lawyers and accountants in the country’s financial district paid less than P35,000 in taxes in 2012.
The amount was less than the P35,952 that the government collected every year from a public school teacher earning P21,500 a month.
The ad showed that there were 318 accountants who paid taxes last year in Makati. The top taxpaying accountant paid P4 million. The one at the bottom of the list paid just P120.
One lawyer out of the 534 in Makati paid just P200 in taxes. Another paid P475, “a small amount compared to what lawyers usually charge their clients.”
Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares said professionals who were not paying proper taxes should be ashamed of themselves.
The ad was part of the DOF and BIR’s weekly shame campaign against professionals who make millions annually but contribute the least to government coffers.
Olarte declined to comment on Henares’ claim that 90 percent of Filipino professionals, including doctors, were tax evaders.
“I cannot verify that allegation, whether it is true or not. But what is certain is that doctors are trying to pay their taxes,” he said.
Doctors also conduct free medical missions and sometimes distribute free medicines to the poor, Olarte said. “Sometimes, our patients also do not pay us.”
He said the PMA was continuing its efforts with the BIR to educate Filipino doctors on how to pay the right taxes.
“We are closely working with the BIR and we will intensify our campaign to inform our doctors about taxes. We started these joint efforts in 2010,” Olarte said.
“Our doctors support the government in this. We want it to succeed. We supported President Aquino during the campaign,” he added.