THE Department of Finance (DoF) will roll out new tax stamps for tobacco and alcohol by October, in response to the proliferation of fakes used for tobacco products.

In a hearing at the House committee on ways and means yesterday — called by legislators to receive a briefing by the DoF and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on efforts to improve tax administration — Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that the measures include implementation of the updated Internal Revenue Stamps Integrated System (IRSIS), as well as the setting up of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in key areas.

“We at the Department of Finance have been undertaking proactive steps to prevent these fake stamps from proliferating. Among these measures are plans to change the stamp design and install closed circuit television or CCTV monitoring systems inside (cigarette) factories and warehouses so that BIR personnel can monitor their operations,” Mr. Dominguez said during the hearing.

Mr. Dominguez said that the new stamps will also be made available for alcohol products — planned by the previous administration in 2015, but never implemented.

“The Integrated System will also be implemented for alcohol products. We have so far completed public consultations with the concerned stakeholders and prepared the Terms of Reference and other requirements for the system. The BIR has already forged a Memorandum of Agreement with the APO Production Unit for the printing of the stamps,” said Mr. Dominguez.

BIR Assistant Commissioner Teresita M. Angeles said at the hearing that the new tax stamps will be out by October.

The excise stamps are used as proof that the tax obligations have been paid. The stamps have special chemicals and QR codes by which their authenticity can be verified using a reader.

“We have also strengthened our enforcement operations against the use of counterfeit stamps,” he added.

The proliferation of counterfeit excise stamps prompted the DoF to overhaul their design and add more security features.

The BIR found that Mighty Corporation, based in Bulacan, has been allegedly using fake excise tax stamps, resulting in three criminal complaints against the company before the Justice department involving a total of P37.88 billion worth of tax liabilities.

This was following seizures by the BIR with the Customs bureau conducted on the company’s warehouses earlier this year. An estimated tax liability of P1.39 billion was assessed for cigarettes seized in General Santos City, P26.93 billion from the San Ildefonso, Bulacan warehouse, and P9.56 billion from the storage facility in San Simon, Pampanga.

The counterfeit stamps were found to have been available for sale at the Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba, before the DoF asked the site to take the items down in April.

The implementation of the IRSIS was initiated by former BIR commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares in 2014. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan