BIR launches US-funded sys­tem to cer­tify tax soft­ware providers

Business World - - The Economy - Eli­jah Joseph C. Tubayan

THE BUREAU of In­ter­nal Rev­enue (BIR) and the United States Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment (USAID) launched on Thurs­day a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem that will au­tho­rize and ver­ify third-party providers of elec­tronic tax so­lu­tions.

The elec­tronic Tax Soft­ware Providers Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Sys­tem (eTSPCert) is an on­line elec­tronic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem for TSPs — or those in­di­vid­u­als or or­ga­ni­za­tions of­fer­ing tax fil­ing and pay­ment ser­vices through mo­bile or desk­top tax fil­ing ap­pli­ca­tions.

“With a sys­tem for cer­ti­fy­ing tax prepa­ra­tion and pay­ment so­lu­tions, tax­pay­ers can be con­fi­dent that when work­ing with au­tho­rized tax pre­par­ers, their tax re­turns and pay­ments will be re­ceived, pro­cessed, and recorded by the BIR,” the BIR said.

The sys­tem cer­ti­fies that the de­vel­op­ers’ soft­ware is con­sis­tent with the BIR’s se­cu­rity stan­dards, and as­sures that any data filed goes through to the BIR data­base.

The pro­ject is ex­pected to in­crease the num­ber of le­git­i­mate tax fil­ing and pay­ment chan­nels, which in turn will ben­e­fit more busi­nesses, in­crease com­pli­ance and im­prove tax fil­ing and pay­ment ef­fi­ciency.

“The eTSPCert Sys­tem is, from end to end, a com­pletely on­line sys­tem, where there shall be ab­so­lutely zero con­tact be­tween ap­pli­cants and the BIR per­son­nel who shall eval­u­ate the soft­ware submitted for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. We are all ex­cited and ea­ger to see the eTSPCert Sys­tem up and run­ning, be­cause it will surely be help­ful in eas­ing the tax­pay­ers’ com­pli­ance bur­den, and ul­ti­mately serve to in­crease the rate of elec­tronic fil­ing and pay­ment,” said BIR Deputy Com­mis­sioner La­nee C. David.

Over­all, about 56% of 2.9 mil­lion tax­pay­ers file taxes elec­tron­i­cally, and only 17% use elec­tronic pay­ment chan­nels.

The BIR said that the pro­gram will im­prove tax ad­min­is­tra­tion, en­hance fis­cal per­for­mance, and ad­vance the ease of do­ing busi­ness.

The ex­pan­sion of elec­tronic and dig­i­tal plat­forms for tax fil­ing in­creases com­pli­ance, elim­i­nates fraud, graft and cor­rupt prac­tices, makes rev­enue flows more trans­par­ent, and shifts trans­ac­tions away from cash, ac­cord­ing to the BIR.

The BIR aims to have 20-23 mil­lion in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses to file and pay their taxes elec­tron­i­cally, from 19 mil­lion last year. “We at USAID re­main com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment’s tax pol­icy and tax ad­min­is­tra­tion re­forms as well as pub­lic fi­nan­cial man­age­ment re­forms. As we sup­port the Philip­pines’ goal of ac­cel­er­at­ing e-pay­ments us­age un­der the USAID/EPeso pro­ject, we will con­tinue to as­sist the BIR in ways that will help im­prove ef­fi­ciency, trans­parency, and ac­count­abil­ity in pub­lic fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions,” said USAID Philip­pines’ Of­fice of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Chief Jef­frey Lehrer, for his part.

Since 2013, the USAID’s Fa­cil­i­tat­ing Pub­lic In­vest­ment (FPI) pro­gram has sup­ported the BIR in mod­ern­iz­ing tax ad­min­is­tra­tion, make it more ef­fi­cient and com­pli­ant with in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cepted prin­ci­ples of self­assess­ment, vol­un­tary com­pli­ance and trans­parency.

The FPI is a five-year, $15.3-mil­lion pro­ject that be­gan in 2013, and seeks to ad­dress tax rev­enue in­ef­fi­cien­cies, tax eva­sion is­sues, and pub­lic spend­ing bot­tle­necks.

The BIR col­lected P1.61 tril­lion in the 10 months to Oc­to­ber pe­riod, up 12% yearon-year. This is equiv­a­lent to 78.96% of the P2.039-tril­lion 2018 tar­get.

The Philip­pines’ rank in the World Bank’s lat­est Pay­ing Taxes rank­ing was 94th out of 190 coun­tries, from 105th a year ear­lier. —

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