THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said it will file criminal charges against tax stamp counterfeiters and review the deficiencies in tax payments by those using them in a Bacolod City case involving fakes claiming the payment P544 million worth of tax on cigarettes.

The BIR seized 15 million tax stamps on May 4 after raiding a warehouse and searching three trucks in Barangay Tangub, Bacolod City. The authorities also seized packaging materials used in cigarette production.

“The BIR (regional) office will file… the necessary criminal cases and the assessment of deficiency taxes on this,” BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel SD. Guballa said in a statement.

Internal revenue stamps are affixed to cigarette packs at the place of manufacture to indicate that the correct excise taxes were paid. Counterfeit, recycled or altered stamps mean lost revenue for the government.

The National Internal Revenue Code prohibits the unauthorized production, import, sale and use of tax stamps, reusing previously affixed stamps and producing fake or altered stamps.

The penalties for such violations include a fine of between P10 million and P500 million and imprisonment of 5-8 years.

Fake tax stamps with a value exceeding P50 million render the violator liable to a fine of P500 million and 10-15 years’ imprisonment. — Beatrice M. Laforga