• By The Financial District


The digitization efforts of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and its stepped-up campaign against delinquent taxpayers and tax dodgers have enabled it to overshoot its collection target in 2020, with P1.67 trillion or 86 percent of the P1.94 trillion in total taxes collected by the agency coursed through electronic payment channels.

BIR commissioner Caesar Dulay said 21.5 million or 94 percent of the 22.86 million tax returns filed in 2o20 were also done online, while only 1.38 million or 6 percent were filed manually, given the mobility restrictions imposed by the government since March 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Of the P1.67 trillion collected through e-channels last year, P4.98 billion of the payments were from the additional digital system PayMaya, he said. Based on preliminary data as of January 8, 2020, the total of P1.94 trillion collected by the BIR in 2020 was about 11.23 percent less than the actual collection of P2.19 trillion in 2019.

But it was 15.14 percent over the revised 2020 goal of P1.68 trillion set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) for the BIR in July last year, he said.

In 2020, 4.37 million new business taxpayers registered with the BIR, representing a 6.15-percent increase from the previous year’s number of 4.11 million, Dulay said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the decrease in BIR collections in 2020 compared to the previous year was understandable, considering the adverse economic impact of the pandemic and the contraction of the gross domestic product (GDP) by about 10 percent that year.

“Congratulations, Billy (Dulay). This coming year, I think, will be continuously challenging but I’m very happy the way BIR has responded to this crisis and had not given up,” Dominguez said following Dulay’s report on the BIR’s 2020 performance.

“Basically, your collections went down almost exactly as the GDP contracted, around 10 percent. That’s about right. In other words, you haven’t let up on the pressure. The performance relative to 2019 is still the same even if the collections are lower. It was lower because the GDP dropped. Please thank the team and keep it up,” Dominguez added.

Dulay said he is optimistic that the BIR this year “will do good based on the recent announcement by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) that we are on the road to economic recovery.”

“We will continue rowing and plowing and collecting these taxes,” Dulay said.

The BIR’s tax effort of 10.67 percent in 2020 was only slightly lower by half a percent compared to 11.2 percent in 2019, Dulay said in his report.