Press Release
April 17, 2015


Considering the difficulties experienced by taxpayers even until the last day of filing of income tax returns (ITR) on April 15, Senator Sonny Angara has renewed his call for the simplification of the tax system to improve the ease of paying taxes in the Philippines.

"While we laud the efforts of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to make taxation more transparent and efficient by implementing the electronic filing and payment system, it seems that many still find the new system more cumbersome and costly with the extra steps they have to take to file and pay their annual income tax. Add to that the glitches on the BIR website and the unfamiliarity of some BIR officials who are expected to assist the confused taxpayers," said Angara, chairman of the ways and means committee.

The senator, who also filed a bill that seeks to lower income tax rates, has long been pushing for the simplification of the process of tax filing and payment by minimizing the steps, requirements, forms and fees imposed by the BIR.

He cited a report by the World Bank and PwC called "Paying Taxes 2015" which shows that it takes an average of 193 hours or eight days for a Filipino to comply with their respective tax obligations. This is faster than the Asia-Pacific average of 229 hours, but still slower than the 173 hours in Cambodia, 155 hours in Myanmar, 133 hours in Malaysia, 93 hours in Brunei Darussalam, and only 82 hours in Singapore.

According to the same report, Filipinos need to make 36 payments to fully comply as compared to 32 payments in Vietnam, 31 in Myanmar, 27 in Brunei, 22 in Thailand, 13 in Malaysia, and five in Singapore.

The lawmaker noted that under the Anti-Red Tape Law, all government agencies are required to undertake time and motion studies of transactions to reduce processing time and bureaucratic red tape.

The ways and means committee chairman said he already requested from BIR their time and motion studies to see how they can simplify and shorten the process.

"We have a one-size-fits-all type of tax system. Business tycoons who own multi-billion corporations have the same requirements as sari-sari store owners and sidewalk vendors who may not be computer literate. This should not be the case. Ang mga Pilipino naman ay handa at gustong sumunod sa batas at magbayad ng buwis pero pinapahirapan pa sila ng mahabang proseso at kumplikadong sistema," Angara said.

Moving forward, he urged the BIR to fix and upgrade their e-filing system to ensure the feasibility of the new system, and to make the already burdensome task of paying taxes easier and more convenient especially for small entrepreneurs.

"It has been a problem of the government to not have enough revenue. Tax collection has been wanting over the decades. What do we attribute this to? Some say it's because of inefficient administration.

"A simplified system coupled with an updated and lowered tax rates would definitely increase compliance, widen the tax base and raise revenue collection. We must continue to push for these tax reforms to balance the needs of both the government and the citizens," he said.

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