By Keith Richard D. Mariano

BIR launches app tracing smuggled, fake cigarettes

Posted on April 30, 2016

THE PUBLIC can now help the government trace smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes by simply using their mobile devices.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has launched a mobile application called Stamp Verifier App that allows users to determine the authenticity of tax stamps affixed to cigarette packs.

BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares, through Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 51-2016, announced the availability of the mobile application for use by both the bureau and the public.

“The use of this mobile [application] will provide the public with a tool in identifying smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes proliferating in the country,” stated the circular dated April 12.

Stamp Verifier App is compatible for devices running on Android and iOS operating system. It can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.

The mobile application allows users to scan the quick response (QR) code in the internal revenue stamp affixed to locally manufactured cigarettes intended for domestic consumption and imported ones.

The QR code stores the unique identifier code (UIC), a serial number representing an internal revenue stamp, and other information concerning the product.

“Cigarette packs scanned with ‘lnvalid QR Code’ contain a UIC which is neither in the database of UlCs corresponding to the stamp already issued nor does it match the corresponding data elements, concluding that these are either smuggled or counterfeit cigarettes.”

RMC 51-2016 states that information retrieved through the mobile application are automatically uploaded to the Internal Revenue Stamps Integrated System (IRSIS) Mobile App Web Service for monitoring and evaluation.

“Thereafter, BIR, based on the evaluated information, shall institute actions on persons responsible for the manufacture/sale of these cigarette packs,” the circular read.

The bureau has implemented the IRSIS on cigarettes since late 2014. The stamps serve as indicators for tax compliance.

Data from the Department of Finance and the World bank show that all cigarette packs released onto the market bear tax stamps during the week ended April 24.