Amid uproar, Palace says taxing online sellers a policy of Aquino admin
MANILA, Philippines — Amid public uproar on the directive issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for online sellers to settle their taxes, Malacañang on Monday said efforts to tax online sellers started during the time of former President Benigno Aquino III.
“Itong polisiya na ito hindi ito bago. Itong polisiya po na buwisan ang mga online sellers nagsimula pa po nung si Kim Henares ang BIR Commissioner sa panahon ni Presidente Noynoy Aquino, pinatutupad lang po natin ang instruction at isang batas na pinasimulan ni Presidente Noynoy Aquino,” Roque said in a televised Palace briefing.
(This policy is not new. This policy to tax online sellers started under Kim Henares who was the BIR Commissioner during President Noynoy Aquino, we are just enforcing the instruction and a law introduced under President Noynoy Aquino.)
Roque was referring to Henares’ 2013 order, requiring registration and tax payments from “online business transactions, including online retailing through virtual shopping malls, online marketplaces, web stores, and similar websites” or “online stores.”
“Ang bago po, ngayon lang po nagkaroon ng 0 percent income tax ang mga kumikita nang hanggang P250,000. ‘Yan po ay dahil sa Train na isinabatas as an administration-certified bill sa administrasyon ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte,” he added.
(What’s new is that businesses earning up to P250,000 had a 0 percent income tax. This is due to the Train law that was passed as an administration-certified bill under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.)
Earlier, the BIR directed online sellers and other digital-based businesses to register their activities, declare previous transactions and settle their corresponding taxes not later than July 31.
The order came as several businesses have shifted to the online platform as coronavirus lockdown restrictions have prevented physical stores from operating.
Several lawmakers frowned at the BIR order with Senator Risa Hontiveros calling it an added burden to ordinary Filipinos who just want to earn extra money to help tide them over the health crisis.
She also called on the government to instead go after the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) which have at least P50 billion in unpaid taxes.
“Kahit na may 50B pesos unpaid taxes sila, at kahit na di essential, pinayagan pa ring mag-operate sa ilalim ng ECQ [enhanced community quarantine]. Mayroon din silang mass testing, at tayo wala,” Hontiveros said in a recent statement.
(Although they have P50 billion unpaid taxes, and although they are not essential, they are still allowed to operate under the ECQ. They also have mass testing, and we don’t.)
“Pwede bang kapakanan ng mga Pinoy muna?” she added.
(Can the welfare of the Filipinos come first?)
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