The Department of Finance (DOF), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday unanimously expressed their support to craft a Senate version of House Bill 9306 which seeks to amend the laws that grant rewards to informants who can help flag violations.
DOF Legal Affairs Director Jesus Nathaniel Gonzales told the Committee of Ways and Means chaired by Senator Pia Cayetano that the bill could improve tax collection, enforcement, and administration of the BIR and BOC.
He suggested general recommendations to further strengthen the provisions of the bill authored by Magdalo party-list Rep. Manuel Cabochan III and approved by the House of Representatives in August last year.
“That the information to be submitted by the informant must be supported by substantial evidence. This will further bolster the intent to filter unreliable information and decongest applications for informers’ rewards in BIR and BOC,” Gonzales said.
He further suggested the inclusion of provisions protecting officials and employees of DOF, BIR, and BOC from unwarranted legal action relating to the grant or denial of the informants’ rewards.
“We, here in DOF, have experienced that several unfounded suits have been maliciously filed by certain rewards claimants whose claims were validly denied by DOF or clear lack of merit,” Gonzales explained to the Senate.
He reported that since 2010, the DOF has recorded 25 reward claims in the BIR and six in the BOC.
Out of 31 claims, he said only 15 were approved which are all from the BIR. All six claims from BOC were denied.
Cayetano asked that the measure be studied further to ascertain if it will even make a substantial difference.
“Hindi naman nag-increase ‘yung collection ninyo (Your collection did not increase). I don’t see why we would think that you would have a better collection. There is no cap for now. The cases are not outstanding. So why would we offer 10 million and put a cap? Can you study that carefully because I don’t wanna be giving away money, even it’s in principle only, when the current evidence show that there are no takers for this. What’s the point?” she said.
The bill, which seeks to amend the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and National Internal Revenue Code, intends to increase the informants’ reward from PHP1 million to PHP10 million.
Lawyer Mary Gretchen Mondragon of the BIR said the bill is consistent with the agency’s core values as it will also encourage taxpayers to report violations that will result in additional collections.
“It also facilitates the discovery of fraud or tax evasion requiring the informant to provide a sworn information stating facts personally known to the informer and shall avoid filing through representation which is prone to abuse,” she added.
Mondragon proposed that the reward shall only pertain to the particular transaction reported by the informant; allow claimants within the fourth degree of consanguinity to government officials instead of the sixth degree; and the percentage of appropriation should be consistent with the BOC’s 20 percent of the tax amount.
BOC lawyer Karen Anne Yambao conveyed the agency’s support for the bill but opted not to make any suggestions or objections yet.
Source: Philippines News Agency