Henares denies 90% tax evasion claim
MANILA, Philippines - Tax chief Kim Henares did not hide her surprise upon seeing herself quoted in news reports as saying that 90% of professionals evade taxes.
"First I was surprised with the newspaper article because I was never interviewed for that article. And second, I never said anything about 90%," she said in a Rappler interview on Thursday, August 1.
She explained that the story came out a day after the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) published an ad in the newspaper to encourage professionals to pay their taxes.
"We had an ad that came out yesterday just basically saying that of the professionals in Makati -- the doctors, lawyers and accountants -- this is how they're paying and compare it to the tax payment of a school teacher. That's what's in the ad," she said.
"I really don't know where the 90% came about, I don't know what's the basis of the 90%," she added. "It's a general statement to say 90%. I'm just putting out data. They can [extrapolate] but it did not come from me," she said.
Henares did not have an exact statistic on non-compliance, but also corrected reports that quoted her as saying the BIR should be collecting an annual average of P100,000 from professionals. She said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima recently told staff to aim for P200,000 by 2016 -- and clarified this was the goal, rather than the rule.
She also explained that in 2011, the BIR collected about P10 billion from more than 400,000 self-employed taxpayers and professionals.
Under her watch, Henares said the BIR increased its revenue last year by 14%, but missed their target by P8 billion.
Henares emphasized that while the most recent ad focuses on professionals, she said they are not the only ones who are guilty of evading taxes.
"At the end of the day, the non compliance is in all sectors, not just the professional. But it's one of the campaigns to show people [and talk to their] conscience, 'Can you say you're paying the right taxes when your tax payment is like this compared to a school teacher?," she said.
According to Malacañang, the ad is part of Tax Watch, "a campaign by the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue [which] publishes weekly lists of individual and non-individual taxpayers."
The goal, it said, "is to increase transparency on tax payments and to encourage people to be conscientious in paying the right taxes."
Updates will be published in major newspapers and the DOF website every week.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters on Thursday the administration is identifying professionals who evade taxes.
"We are identifying the professionals who are paying less than what they should pay and there will be tax evasion charges filed against them," he said.
Henares said taxpayers can amend their tax returns any time, as long as they have not yet been questioned. - Rappler.com