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Business groups welcome bill easing taxpaying process but cast doubt on revenue estimate

People line up to file their income tax returns at the Bureau of Internal Revenue office in Intramuros, Manila, April 18. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ RUSSELL A. PALMA

BUSINESS GROUPS said the estimate of additional revenue to be generated via the proposed Ease of Paying Taxes (EoPT) law might have been premature, though they welcomed the measures streamlining companies’ dealings with the tax authorities.

The House of Representatives on Monday passed on third and final reading the proposed EoPT law, which its backers said would generate an estimated P73.1 billion in additional revenue over five years.

Alexander B. Cabrera, governor for tax of the Management Association of the Philippines, said uncertainty hangs over the revenue impact estimate accompanying the bill.

“We cannot surely say that the estimated additional revenue will be the effect,” he said by phone. “What I see in the bill is the simplification of the payment of taxes and that it is beneficial for small taxpayers.”

“Venue for the payment of taxes is not entirely the reason for non-payment of taxes,” Mr. Cabrera added. “The rates of the income tax return such as the 20% rate for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) may be too high for them, which might result in non-compliance.”

Chris Nelson, executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines said by phone that estimating the revenue boost resulting from a new law is difficult.

“But anything that is done to facilitate and simplify tax returns is a way for improving the better service of the (tax) administration,” he added. “We want to see doing business in the Philippines such as the filing for registration of the payment of tax made easier for companies and individuals.”

Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda said in a Viber message that the bill aims to simplify the tax process for small businesses, removing registration fees and the need to file taxes in specific locations.

He also cited the benefits from shifting to a pure invoice system.

“First, the reckoning for taxability becomes the same,” he said. “Second, we can now accelerate electronic invoicing.”

Electronic invoicing is expected to accelerate the grant of value-added tax refunds by streamlining the processing of claims and the retrieval of records.

The EoPT Act is one of the priority measures of the Joint Foreign Chambers as well as the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Salceda said.

“This bill will make doing business easier and the business groups themselves enthusiastically endorse this,” he added. “Both big and small businesses like this reform.”

Makati Business Club Executive Director Francisco Alcuaz, Jr., said in a text message that an EoPT law will be a game changer, especially for small businesses.

“It makes no sense that entrepreneurs striving to survive and grow have the same BIR requirements as big companies with many accountants,” he added. — Kyanna Angela Bulan

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