BIR misses 2021 collection target

The Bureau of the Internal Revenue (BIR), the government’s main tax agency, has missed its collection target last year, the Department of Finance (DOF) reported on Friday, Jan. 28.

Citing preliminary reports from the BIR, the DOF said the bureau collected P2.07 trillion from January to December 2021, marginally below the P2.081 trillion target. The BIR contributes about two-thirds to government coffers.

The full-year collection performance of the BIR, however, was six percent higher compared with P1.951 trillion recorded in 2020, but still below the pre-pandemic 2019 tax haul of P2.175 trillion, data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed.

Despite the lower-than-expected collections, the DOF said that the BIR’s ongoing digital transformation program enabled the agency to continue collecting taxes even amid the mobility restrictions resulting from the pandemic.

Its digitalization initiatives include the Internal Revenue Integrated System (IRIS) and the Enhanced Internal Revenue Stamps Integrated System (IRSIS).

IRIS serves as the BIR's central tool and repository to process taxpayer information, while IRSIS is an application that manages the ordering, production, distribution, affixing and tracking of revenue stamps to monitor the proper payment of excise taxes on tobacco products.

Among other digitalization initiatives, the BIR also launched its Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) mobile application. The BIR has also a single hotline number and Chatbot “REVIE” on its website to assist taxpayers with general inquiries, on top of being able to email the bureau regarding their concerns.

It has also put in place its Electronic Filing and Payment System (eFPS), Electronic Fund Transfer Instructions System (eFTIS), and other e-payment channels to allow taxpayers to pay taxes online.

With the shift to contactless transactions, almost 100 percent of annual income tax returns were filed online in 2021, the BIR said.

Earlier, FInance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the BIR faces the “great task” of raising as much revenues as possible to fund the comprehensive effort of defeating the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting the nation’s economic recovery.

In 2022, the BIR is expected to surpass its pre-pandemic annual tax haul. The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), an inter-agency body that sets the country's macroeconomic targets, has tasked the BIR to raise P2.435 trillion for this year.