THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) saw a decline in the issuance of cigarette tax stamps during one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The Finance department in a statement said the BIR issued 537.13 million cigarette tax stamps worth P18.8 billion from March to June. The volume of stamps was 59% lower than the 1.32 billion stamps worth P59.46 billion released in the same period in 2019.

Luzon was placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) starting mid-March to end-April. As of May 16, Metro Manila transitioned to a modified ECQ and on June 1, it was downgraded to a general community quarantine.

The BIR reported an 85% decline in the volume of cigarette tax stamps to 47.89 million stamps worth P1.68 billion in April, after the ECQ was extended.

In May, the BIR issued only 8.57 million cigarette tax stamps worth P299.89 million, 98% lower than the 385.04 million stamps worth P17.32 billion a year ago.

As lockdown restrictions eased in June, the BIR released 264.61 million tax stamps worth P9.26 billion, although this was still 8.6% lower than year-ago figures. — BML