By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) came after online sellers in the midst of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and required them to register their businesses and pay taxes like those who have retail storefronts.
But since the BIR released a list of online merchants that are required to register, including bloggers and filmmakers earning from digital ads, Twitterverse became rife with comments that mocked the tax agency.
@RaymondGorgod wrote, “Waiting for a memorandum from the BIR requiring Christmas Carolers to register before Christmas.”
@rosereyde added, “Basically, this government will squeeze every single centavo out of our bodies but will refuse to touch and in fact will happily grant billions in corporate bailouts to the 1 percent.”
Netizens observed that the government turns a blind eye towards the operations of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) but insists on taxing everything else.
Vlogger @MABuendiaHD tweeted, “Online sellers are being targeted by BIR while the Chinese POGOs get away with tax evasion. But of course, some people don’t care because they’re not directly affected.”
He further lamented that people who are not on the “chopping block” will not really care about “the injustices happening around them.”
“At a time when a lot of people have no income and are trying to make ends meet by selling stuff online, here comes BIR,” fumed @elpeeabias. “YOU CAN’T EVEN TAX POGOS [expletive].”
Senator Joel Villanueva, on the other hand, is pleading with the BIR to have “puso naman (a heart)” and spare those making a living through the digital platform.
“On BIR taxing online sellers: Pasalamat nga tayo at madiskarte ang mga Pilipino. Wala na ngang ayuda, i t-tax nyo pa. Hindi naman milyon milyon ang kinikita ng maliliit na online sellers (Let us be thankful that Filipinos are resourceful. There is already no help given, and yet you are still taxing them. These online sellers don’t earn millions),” he tweeted.
Some netizens are not completely against the BIR’s order, but still urged it nonetheless to be more considerate. @royVives wrote, “I’m not 100 percent against taxes, so long as they’re not pocketed by corrupt officials. That said, please raise the non-taxable ceiling to maybe 400k a year? A pandemic happened, we are not back to normal. You earn other taxes through consumer spending.”