Death And Taxes in the Philippines

By N. Mark Castro

In one of the stupidest move ever, the Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue has declared that “even entrepreneurs who use their personal Facebook accounts for business transactions would have to comply with the invoicing requirement,” according to BIR chief Kim Jacinto-Henares as reported in

Further, she stated that “online businesses – such as, e-bay Philippines,, and – would have to be registered with the BIR.”

In its interest to increase its revenue and appear effective before the eyes of the President, BIR chief Kim Jacinto-Henares failed to consider the young boys and girls that have acquired the taste for entrepreneurship through some of these online platforms, particularly, Multiply and Facebook. Understandably, online companies such as, e-bay Philippines,, and should be taxed as a business entity by itself, however, clear implementing rules and regulations, particularly, on exemptions should be properly outlined as this would impact taxing budding entrepreneurs.

True, the Philippines has produced a handful of successful young entrepreneurs, but for a country of almost 100 million with still a very high unemployment rate, it’s best to encourage young people to adopt the spirit of entrepreneurship. After all, not everyone has a good business plan that they can bankroll themselves, nor would they have funders at the get-go, which is why Facebook and other social media have become viable platforms for these kids to use.

The agency’s primary objective on any of its actions is to increase its collection, but going after personal online transactions just don’t add up. For instance, buying or selling brand new — or even secondhand — iPad online provides a very small margin for these people. Assuming they make some revenue, the greatest currency online traders have is their integrity, which is why they are more aware than your average traders that they cannot afford to sell lemon.

This is the online world.

One bad word is all it takes.

And they have embraced integrity more than big business, which can afford to send you to Customer Service that will attend to you after they have attended to mainland China.

Besides, these are just passive incomes that these kids — or even older people, if not retirees — that would like to augment what they have. And they are more adept in pushing brands online, which then help economic growth.

Do big business do that?

All these “Tuwid Na Daan” (Straight Path) talk that President Noynoy Aquino espouses has produced some of the most idiotic reactions from government institutions vying for his attention, if not applause. It’s intentions are good, you can say, but hell is paved with what again?

Photo from

“This plan will push through hopefully within the year. Under the rules, online sellers shall be registered as such to the BIR, and that their electronic invoicing shall likewise be registered either directly to us or a third-party accredited by us,” the BIR chief said.

“The electronic invoicing could be availed of through a third party, but such third-party shall be accredited by the BIR. Meaning, private parties could participate and get the necessary accreditation from us,” she added.

So what we have here are the usual favored companies of the BIR making money over innocent people trying to make a buck. It’s not like the BIR is the Virgin Mary, where it even has to police its own ranks caught in their own financial scandals.

At the rate this agency is going, it’s showing more and more its act of desperation to produce results that benefit the public instead of its own wallet. Where do and should taxes go anyway? How can you generate inspiration from the very people you serve when it has done nothing but enjoy itself from the sweat of the public.

It’s not like we’re a citizenry inspired to give to the government what we’ve worked hard all day and all night long just so they’d have money for their karaoke nights. It’s not like the Philippines in itself — as well as this agency — reeks of integrity.


Go after the the real tax evaders, go after big business, go after the Church, go after the politicians, go after the Untouchables in Philippine society and, while you’re at it, audit the very chief herself … but, damnit, leave these kids alone.

Yes, Benjamin Franklin did say that, the one whose face appears before the Almighty Dollar … but … let me tell you one thing about death and taxes …

You don’t die every year.


About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the Southeast Asia Director of JUMP DIGITAL Asia, which is an internationally-awarded and fully integrated digital marketing agency with 5 out of 10 offices in the ASEAN region. He is also the Secretary General of the Philippine Business Club Indonesia, managing and assisting the traffic of investments between the Philippines and Indonesia. He shuttles between Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, and Australia. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on July 31, 2012, in General, Politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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