BIR files cases against illegal Vape sellers

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has filed charges against businesses selling smuggled and untaxed Vape products.

BIR Commissioner Romeo D. Lumagui Jr. said on Tuesday, Dec. 13, said the bureau filed a criminal complaint and a separate a civil case against four individuals, whose businesses were caught selling illegal Vapes.

All have been charged with violations against Republic Act No. 11346, as well as breaching the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, Lumagui said.

The criminal complaints came as a result of a previous raid, wherein Lumagui personally led a specialized team to inspect the onsite and online business operations of the accused in Binondo.

The operation led to the seizure of approximately 50,000 to 100,000 units of vapes, plus 899 boxes of untaxed excisable articles composed of 175,050 pieces of pods, and 61,400 pieces of bottled flavored juice.

The estimated value of the goods seized ranged from P15 million to P30 million.

"I hope this serves yet another warning to those who think that they can continue to evade the payment of their taxes. We are hands-on and focused in our job, and we take this very seriously.” Lumagui said.

The BIR chief appraised that the government loses around P1.4 billion in revenue due to smuggled vapes alone.

"The excise tax for nicotine salts is P47 per milligram. So with an estimated 500,000 units per month brought in illegally, with an average of 5-milligram content at P47 per milligram, the country loses around P117.5 million per month or P1.410 billion annually," he said.

Apart from the criminal case filed, the accused are likewise facing a civil case deemed instituted in the criminal complaint, in the aggregate amount of P1.2 billion, inclusive of fines and penalties.

"The popularity and wide use of vape as a smoking alternative has tempted many unscrupulous businessmen and traders to import and sell them illegally," Lumagui noted.

"As a word of advice, they should go through the proper and lawful channels, and make sure that they are in full regulatory compliance. Otherwise, we will confiscate their illegal products and file the corresponding criminal charges against them.” he concluded.