Philippines turns to online sellers for revenues

The Philippine government has set its sights on online sellers as the country scrambled for revenues amid the global pandemic.

In a memorandum posted on its website, the country’s Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said that 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, and other digital means, [shall] ensure that their businesses are registered pursuant to the provisions of Section 236 of the Tax Code, as amended, and that they are tax compliant.”

“These shall include not only partner sellers or merchants, but also other stakeholders involved such as the payment getaways, delivery channels, internet service providers, and other facilitators,” it said.

Meanwhile, digital businessmen were required to voluntarily declare their past transactions subject to pertinent taxes and pay taxes due without a corresponding penalty.

“All those who will register their business activity and/or update their registration status not later than July 31, 2020, shall not be imposed with a penalty for late registration,” said the tax watchdog.

“All persons found later doing business without complying with the registration or update requirements, and those who failed to declare past due taxes or unpaid taxes shall be imposed with the applicable penalties under the law, and existing revenue rules and regulations,” it added.

A lawmaker on Thursday decried the move, saying that taxing online sellers was “untimely” as most of those conducting business transactions through digital or electronic means were only forced to do so after losing their regular jobs due to the coronavirus disease.

“These online sellers just want to put food on the table. This might even be just a temporary activity for them until they find a more stable job,” said ACT-CIS party-list representative Nina Taduran.

“I know that every business should be registered and consequently pay taxes pursuant to the Tax Code, but setting an immediate deadline and warning them of stiff penalty is insensitive,” she added.

“Let the people recover first from the financial beating of this pandemic.”