By Vanne Terrazola
The government should encourage online selling to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Joel Villanueva said on Saturday, June 13.
In a Twitter post, Villanueva maintained his position about the government’s move to collect taxes from Filipinos who are engaged and earning from online business amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“In ordinary times, yes online sellers should register and pay the appropriate taxes. But right now, we have a pandemic and everyone is just trying to survive. We should encourage these online sellers so they can thrive and contribute to economic activities,” the senator wrote.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) recently issued a memorandum reminding online vendors to register and settle their taxes before the end of July. Late registration and payment shall be slapped with penalties under the existing laws and regulations. But instead of taxing them, Villanueva said the government, in the meantime, should “provide enough online resources so that they can upgrade their entrepreneurial skills and be knowledgeable in proper handling and storage of food, and financial management, among others, to make their businesses sustainable.”
The chair of the Senate labor committee issued the statement in reaction to a reported appeal by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry for online sellers to be open to the BIR’s directive to contribute to the government’s efforts in addressing the pandemic and its impacts. The government had also clarified that entrepreneurs who are earning less than P250,000 annually are exempt from income tax, while their sales below P3 million are free from value-added tax.
Lawmakers, however, slammed the BIR’s memo as ill-timed and insensitive, citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to employment and livelihood. Senators said the BIR should first focus on going after Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) who have been refusing to pay their tax obligations.