Hontiveros urges BIR to ‘withdraw, review, rewrite’ online seller memo

Aika Rey

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Hontiveros urges BIR to ‘withdraw, review, rewrite’ online seller memo


Senator Risa Hontiveros says the exemption on small-time online vendors should be included in the Bureau of Internal Revenue guidelines

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to reissue its order on taxing online sellers, as the trade department said small-time businesses don’t need to register anymore.

“Naging magulo para sa mga online sellers ang memo mula sa BIR. Mabuti pang bawiin, i-review, at i-rewrite muna ng ahensiya ang guidelines na nilabas nila,” Hontiveros said in a virtual forum on taxing online sellers on Wednesday, June 17.

(The BIR memorandum became complicated for online sellers. It’s better if the agency withdraws, reviews, and rewrites the guidelines they issued.)

Under Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 60-2020, the BIR gave online vendors until July 31 to register their businesses to avoid penalty. (INFOGRAPHIC: Fast facts on online shopping in PH)

If sellers are already selling prior to registration, they would have to declare their past transactions and pay appropriate taxes before the July deadline. They must also issue receipts. RMC 60-2020 reiterates existing BIR rules.

On Tuesday, June 16, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told DZMM Teleradyo that businesses with a net income of P250,000 and below annually are supposedly exempted from registering their businesses.

However, there’s no clear exemption under the new BIR memo. The circular said it covers “all persons doing business and earning income in any manner or form, specifically those who are into digital transactions through the use of any electronic platforms and media.”

“Dapat maging malinaw sa BIR circular ang mga exemptions para sa mga small online sellers at para sa mga nag-o-online selling bilang pantawid ngayong marami ang nawalan ng trabaho at kita,” Hontiveros said.

(The exemption on small online sellers and those who are selling to make ends meet should be clear in the BIR circular.)

She also appealed for the BIR to implement a moratorium on registration due to the pandemic.

Hontiveros pointed out that sellers will have to pay some P2,260 to register their businesses. This amount covers registration fees and payment for printing of receipts – which can cost up to P1,500 per booklet.

“May pwedeng dagdag-gastos din sa pag-file ng financial report quarterly. Mahirap yan para sa isang small-time online seller na dapat ay may proper documentation na ang kita niya ay less than P250,000 annually,” Hontiveros said.

(There might be additional fees if you file a financial report quarterly. It would be difficult for small-time online sellers to have that documentation if they earn less than P250,000 annually.)

The senator also reiterated her call for the BIR to demand payment from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) on Wednesday.

“How much, sis?” the senator asked BIR, alluding to the popular question asked to online sellers. 

She added, “Mula sa kanilang utang na P50 billion, magkano na ba ang nabayaran?” (From their tax liability fo P50 billion, how much have erring POGOs paid?)

Online businesses and delivery services boomed as millions of Filipinos were told to stay at home.

Earlier, the Department of Trade and Industry reminded online vendors to display prices, instead of asking customers to send a private message. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.