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By Mikhail Franz E. Flores, Senior Reporter

Hi-tech TIN card coming soon -- BIR

Posted on May 22, 2015

THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) hopes to roll out by next year an updated Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) card that will electronically store personal data and eventually have other uses, Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares said on Wednesday.

“By next year, we will be issuing a TIN card that’s on a smart card rather than cardboard. The other thing we want to do is eventually... you will swipe the card so the receipt will come out with your TIN number because that’s already a requirement for VAT (value-added taxes) deduction,” Ms. Henares said in her remarks before the general membership meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, Inc.

Currently, the TIN card is printed on cardboard, bearing besides birth date, issuance date and signature. Taxpayers likewise affix their photos and use the card as proof of identity in transacting with government offices, banks and other institutions.

Ms. Henares said BIR will digitize TIN cards to minimize fraud and “to allow flexibility so that we can use it for other things.”

“Initially, it’s your TIN card. In it will be your biometrics,” Ms. Henares later said in an interview at the sidelines of the AmCham meeting.

“Eventually, it will have more uses.”

Ms. Henares said BIR will implement the new system to select taxpayers starting August before it rolls out the new IDs by January 2016.

Ms. Henares added the new IDs may also store transactions in the future and record VAT payments.

The National Tax Research Center (NTRC), in the November-December 2014 edition of its journal, also raised the possibility of expanding the use of the TIN card. “To enhance its utility to taxpayers, the BIR may explore the possibility of enhancing the TIN card by making it an electronic card and to function as rewards card of different business establishments which will record and store the taxable transactions of the taxpayers and his/her corresponding tax payments and get rewards points at the same time,” NTRC explained.

For example, NTRC said the electronic TIN card may store value-added tax (VAT) payment data after a taxpayer swipes it at a point-of-sale (POS) device. “The taxpayer may also check the total amount of taxes that he/she has already paid for a particular time frame through the POS. The electronic TIN card should be recognizable in all business establishments to be able to capture the required information,” NTRC said.

The TIN’s expanded use, NTRC said, should enable the taxpayer to keep track of transactions. “This will enhance transparency in the tax system which will promote compliance among taxpayers,” the tax research center said.

The electronic TIN card could likewise be used to check the declared income of a taxpayer. “This is possible because the BIR will have an idea how much income is passing on the hands of the taxpayers as can be deducted from the spending pattern reflected on the information contained in electronic TIN card,” NTRC said.

NTRC, however, noted an electronic TIN could raise privacy issues and impinge on the right against self-incrimination.

Thus, it recommended voluntary, optional use of the system by taxpayers.

Hence, NTRC suggested offering incentives “to encourage habitual use of the electronic TIN card in every taxable transaction.”

“For example, a certain amount of VAT paid may be converted to points which in turn may be claimed by a taxpayer as credit, refund, deduction, rebate or basis of a reward system that may be developed by the BIR,” the state tax think tank explained.

The TIN was first introduced in 1989 as part of BIR’s reform program at the time, replacing the outmoded Tax Account Number system.

The TIN consists of a 9-12 digit numeric code. Latest available BIR data show that 28,468,838 TINs had been issued as of July 9 last year. The total consists of 27,900,422 for individuals and 568,416 for non-individual taxpayers.