The Philippine Star

DOF wants Congress to ease bank se­crecy law

- By MARY GRACE PADIN Finance · Taxes · Fraud · Business · White-collar Crime · Crime · U.S. Internal Revenue Service · Philippines · Lebanon · Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas · Tax Credit

The Depart­ment of Fi­nance (DOF) is press­ing Congress to ease the bank se­crecy law to en­able au­thor­i­ties to prop­erly look into in­di­vid­u­als sus­pected of fraud.

Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Car­los Dominguez said there is a need to lift bank se­crecy for tax pur­poses to im­prove the en­force­ment of the law against crimes such as tax eva­sion and money laun­der­ing.

“It is ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary for proper tax ad­min­is­tra­tion and we are de­ter­mined to see this passed,” Dominguez said.

“We’re just ask­ing Congress, please give us the tools so that our tax au­thor­i­ties and other au­thor­i­ties can do their job, can pur­sue their job prop­erly,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to Dominguez, the pro­posed lift­ing of the bank se­crecy law, for one, would en­able the Bureau of In­ter­nal Rev­enue (BIR) to prop­erly in­ves­ti­gate tax­pay­ers sus­pected of tax eva­sion and im­prove its tax col­lec­tion.

“Can you imag­ine? (BIR deputy Com­mis­sioner) Ar­nel (Guballa) here, he knows that some­body is cheat­ing on the tax and the only way he can do it is to look at the guy’s bank ac­count but he can­not do it. We’re not ask­ing him to look at it, you know, for cu­rios­ity or for gos­sip or for some­thing,” Dominguez said.

“If we have a good sus­pi­cion that, you know, a crime is be­ing com­mit­ted, tax eva­sion, money laun­der­ing, that’s when we’ll look at it. But, you know how can you ex­pect bet­ter tax col­lec­tion, if you can’t?” he added.

Dominguez said he wants to have this pro­posed mea­sure passed within the 18th Congress.

More­over, Fi­nance Un­der­sec­re­tary An­tonette Tionko said the lift­ing of the bank se­crecy law, as well as the pro­posed au­to­matic ex­change of in­for­ma­tion among tax agen­cies, would make the Philip­pines com­pli­ant with the in­ter­na­tional stan­dards on trans­parency.

“It is in com­pli­ance with our in­ter­na­tional obli­ga­tions,” Tionko said. “That’s why we need lift­ing of bank se­crecy.”

Ac­cord­ing to the DOF, the Philip­pines and Le­banon are the only coun­tries in the world that still im­ple­ment strin­gent bank se­crecy laws.

Ear­lier, the DOF said the agency, to­gether with the Bangko Sen­tral ng Pilip­inas (BSP) will push for leg­is­la­tors to ease the bank se­crecy law for the ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­posed amnesty pro­gram for tax­pay­ers with un­paid obli­ga­tions.

Dominguez said the BSP is one with the DOF in its po­si­tion that a gen­eral tax amnesty pro­gram can­not be im­ple­mented with­out lift­ing the bank se­crecy re­stric­tions in fraud cases.

The pro­posed gen­eral tax amnesty pro­gram is part of Pack­age 1B of the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion’s com­pre­hen­sive tax re­form pro­gram.

In Fe­bru­ary, Pres­i­dent Duterte signed into law Repub­lic Act 11213 or the Tax Amnesty Act, but he ve­toed the law’s sec­tions on the gen­eral tax amnesty pro­gram due to the lack of pro­vi­sions on bank se­crecy and au­to­matic ex­change of in­for­ma­tion.

This left only the es­tate tax amnesty and tax amnesty on delin­quen­cies un­der the law.

Duterte said he ve­toed the items as im­ple­ment­ing a gen­eral tax amnesty law with­out lift­ing the bank se­crecy would only lead to rev­enue losses for the gov­ern­ment and en­cour­age tax eva­sion.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines