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BIR eyes ways to tax online sellers


THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) is looking to collect taxes from online sellers on e-commerce platforms more efficiently.

BIR Commissioner Romeo D. Lumagui said it is difficult to monitor taxes on individual online sellers on e-commerce platforms.

“We’re in constant communication with the platforms, because it’s a challenge to monitor. We’re thinking of ways to approach it because if we look at individual online sellers, it’s a bit difficult. It’s a challenge,” he told reporters on Thursday evening.

Mr. Lumagui said the BIR is prioritizing ways to better collect taxes from online sellers and other new platforms this year.

The pandemic forced many entrepreneurs to shift to online selling using e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Lazada, as well as social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok.

As of 2022, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) estimated there are around two million entities doing business as online sellers.

In 2021, the digital economy contributed 9.6% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), or about P1.87 trillion. DigiPinas, the multi-sectoral initiative led by UBX Philippines Corp., earlier said the Philippine digital economy can grow to as much as $150 billion or about P8.3 trillion in the next decade.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lumagui said the BIR will tap social media influencers to help educate the public on the importance of paying taxes.

“They have reach and I think that one way of making people comply with tax obligations is to educate the people since tax is a very complicated topic not easy to understand,” he said, adding the BIR will schedule a dialogue with them.

Mr. Lumagui said the BIR will continue its efforts to collect taxes from social media influencers, since they’re earning income. He noted there are already some who are undergoing tax audits.

“What we want is to dialogue with them that these are your obligations as social media influencers, you’re earning from whatever you’re doing, so this is your responsibility as income earners,” he said.

The BIR said it collected around P44.6 billion worth of tax from online content creators and retail sales at the end of 2021.

The BIR is targeting to collect a total of P2.6 trillion in revenues this year, 11% higher from the actual collection of P2.34 trillion in 2022. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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