Finance Chief: Digitalization transformation top priority of BIR, BOC

Ensuring efficiency. seamless and on time, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) have put their respective digital transformation programs on the fast lane this year even amid the COVID-19 pandemic to further improve tax administration for the benefit of taxpayers and raise the collection efficiency of these agencies. 

In separate reports to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III during a recent executive committee (Execom) meeting of the Department of Finance (DOF), the BIR and BOC said that since February this year,  they have implemented various digital tools to facilitate trade, make the filing and payment of taxes and duties easier and more convenient for taxpayers, and curb corruption.

Starting Feb. 14, the BIR has allowed the use of the PayMaya mobile application as an additional electronic payment channel for tax payments.  

The BOC followed suit on June 9 by partnering with the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to allow  the collection of customs duties and fees through the PayMaya digital channel. 

The BIR has also improved  the tax forms deployed in the e-BIR Forms System to make the filing of tax returns more accessible and convenient to taxpayers. 

The preliminary number of tax returns filed electronically from January to September 2020 reached 16.45 million, making up 94 percent of the total 17.42 million tax returns filed for the period.

From January to September 2020, P1.241 trillion or 86 percent of total BIR tax collections amounting to P1.45 trillion was collected through electronic payment channels. 

Of this amount, P3.3 billion was collected from the additional electronic payment channels tapped by the BIR  under the Duterte  administration. 

On top of PayMaya, these other e-payment tools are GCash, LandBank Linkbiz, DBP PayTax, Union Bank Online and PESONet.

The BIR began the pilot implementation  last April 21 of its web-based Internal Revenue Integrated System (IRIS) that will be the central tool and repository to process taxpayers’ information.  

This IRIS is targeted be available nationwide by the end of 2021, the BIR said. 

An Electronic Audited Financial System (eAFS) was launched last June 1 to allow business taxpayers to electronically submit  their financial statements to the BIR. 

The BIR also concluded last June its competition dubbed the ‘HACK-A-TAX Challenge,’ which  brought together talented information technology (IT)  professionals, start-ups and students across the country to develop innovative digital-based solutions for the bureau.

To enable  taxpayers to continue consulting revenue officials on their tax-related concerns even with the mobility restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, the BIR launched its eAppointment Facility on Oct. 19. 

This November, the BIR also launched its web-based Procurement, Payment, Inventory and Monitoring System (PPIMS) and its Online Application for Tax Clearance for Bidding Purposes (eTCBP). 

The bureau also expects to launch this month its in-house developed One-Time Transactions (ONETT) Tracking System and its Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Verifier mobile application  for taxpayers. 

For the BOC, it has continued to simplify its processes by launching its Customer Care Portal System, which enables stakeholders to electronically lodge and track the status of their inquiries, requests and concerns. 

Last Feb. 7, the BOC  also unveiled  its Customs Service Center, which functions as a centralized document-receiving and -releasing area, information kiosk, and payment booth.

 The goal is to establish these centers in all BOC collection districts nationwide. 

To date, Customs Service Centers have been established in 13 major ports.

The BOC has also rolled out its Electronic  Tracking of Containerized Cargo System (e-TRACC) that allows for the real-time monitoring of inland movements of containerized cargo using a GPS-enabled tracking device to secure the transport of shipments to their intended destinations. 

It has also put in place an Inventory Management System (IMS) that monitors the real-time status of imported goods and raw materials transferred, stored and withdrawn from customs bonded warehouses to foil attempts at technical smuggling. 

An Electronic Value Reference Information System (e-VRIS) is also being used now by the BOC as a risk management tool that operates its  Electronic 2 Mobile (E2M) System to ascertain the veracity of any statement, document, or declaration presented for customs valuation purposes. 

Its E2M system undergoes regular maintenance updates to ensure its  stability and optimum performance. 

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