By Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan

THE DEPARTMENT of Finance (DoF) ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to settle out of court its tax disputes with government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) to avoid legal fees.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said this would avoid spending taxpayers’ money in the process and free up the court’s backlog of cases.

“Can we avoid going to court for wholly owned (state) companies? I want that as a rule. If there is a government-to- government problem, don’t go to court, just settle it among yourselves,” Mr. Dominguez told BIR Deputy Commissioner Celia C. King during a meeting last week.

Mr. Dominguez sits as a member of most GOCC governing boards and as chairman of a number of them.

Ms. King said the bureau’s Large Taxpayers Service has identified several “big-ticket items” in the fourth quarter, including possible settlements with some private firms and government-run firms — which could help it reach its collection goal this year.

The Finance chief said at the Execom meeting that settling tax matters with GOCCs would save the BIR’s Litigation Division, the Office of the Solicitor-General, and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) from additional work and legal fees.

The BIR’s priority programs to shore up revenues include the Compromise Settlement Program for large taxpayers, which aims at faster collection of taxes from delinquents at smaller amounts to avoid lengthy legal battles.

The tax bureau’s collection goal this year is P1.783 trillion.

So far, the BIR generated P1.441 trillion, or 80.82% of the target as of end-October, which was 11% more from the P1.293 trillion that it generated in the same period a year ago.