BIR files 69 tax evasion cases worth P1.8B vs illegal cigarette traders
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Thursday filed 69 tax evasion cases against illegal cigarette traders before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The cigarette traders were the subject of government raids in January, which alleged illicit operations caused P1.8 billion in losses to the government.
“Ang total exposure na sinampa natin dito ngayon, including penalties at fines ay nasa P1.8 billion (The total exposure we have filed here now, including penalties and fines, amounts to P1.8 billion),” BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. told reporters.
In January, 2023, the BIR conducted its first-ever simultaneous raids against illicit cigarette traders with all its regional enforcers conducting operations on 378 stores nationwide.
The raids were conducted in 21 provinces and 69 cities and municipalities.
“Sinundan natin ng kaukulang kaso laban sa mga nahuli natin sa raid para naman mapakita natin na seryoso tayo sa kampanya natin laban sa illicit cigarrette trades,” Lumagui said.
(We followed up with the appropriate cases against those we apprehended in the raid to demonstrate our seriousness in our campaign against illicit cigarette trades.)
What is illicit cigarette trading?
Lumagui explained that before selling cigarettes, the necessary excise tax should be paid. Once paid, they will be given corresponding stamps which will be visible in every cigarette packs.
“Itong nahuli natin noong Jan. 25, 2023 na raid ay walang stamp. Yung iba dito ay peke ang stamps na kunwari ay bayad ang tax pero na-verify natin na hindi bayad,” Lumagui said.
(Some of the cigarette packs we confiscated during the Jan. 25, 2023 raid don’t have stamps while others have fake stamps to make it appear that they have paid the taxes but in reality, they did not.)
Risks of cigarettes without stamps
Lumagui said cigarettes without stamps are being sold at a cheaper price which would appeal more to the ordinary consumers.
However, he warned that cigarettes without government stamps are fake.
“Mabigat pa yung health risk nyo jan, in addition dun sa risk dahil naninigarilyo kayo,” he said.
(There is great risk to your health, on top of the health risk because of smoking.)
Lumagui said they are coordinating with law enforcement agencies to identify the people behind the illegal cigarette trades and finally put a stop to their activities.
The BIR have been running into various activities aimed at evading taxes.
Earlier this year, the BIR filed 74 tax evasion case worth P3.5-billion tax evasion against delinquent tax individuals and corporate taxpayers.