12 May 2014

BIR is Passing The Buck

BIR ITR Filing
I was one of those who got in line on 15 April 2014 at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) District Office to beat the deadline for filing the Income Tax Returns (ITR).

I was one of those who witnessed how undermanned and overworked the people of the Bureau and I also witness how inefficient the system is adopted by the country's tax collection agency. The main reason why there is a need to file the ITR on the said date was to avoid paying the 25 percent surcharge of extra charge imposed by the government on those who filed late.

The problem with the Bureau is that instead of addressing the complaints of hundred or thousands of those who filed on the 15 April, they are trying to pass the blame of the payers' penchant to file on the last day.

BIR Chief Kim Henares noted there is no improvement in the behavior of taxpayers because most of them still wait until the last two days when they could have filed their ITR's earlier. What Henares is saying is that, "It Pays to Pay or File Early."

With all due respect to the the Bureau's Chief, that is not the way to address the issue. The battle cry should be, "It Pays To Pay Your Taxes Whenever You Want."

Why blame the taxpayer's behavior? Is it wrong to pay on the deadline? If it is, then don't set one in the first place. What is wrong is to make it hard, uncomfortable and irritating for taxpayers to pay their dues on the date that they want to file their ITR.

If Henares is really sure about the influx of taxpayers on the deadline she set, then why not adopt contingency measures, such as hiring more security personnel to control the crowd, enforce order and maintain the line. Why not instruct the Bureau's personnel not to entertain and facilitate the papers of people they knew who are not following the order of submission? Why not fixed their computer system to efficiently handle large scale filing of ITRs? The same thing can be said about the Commission on Election (COMELEC), but that is another story.

It is easy to blame the public's tendency to try to meet the deadline on the date itself than to acknowledge that the Bureau is ill-equipped to handle mass filing of income tax that they, ironically, need to pay their own personnel.