Let’s Talk Tax

Taxes have been around forever, and will remain a feature of our civilization. Taxation is a burden we must learn to live with, as they are collected for the welfare of the people.

In the Philippines, while there are questions and concerns about the collection of taxes, the BIR has been optimistic about the prospects of its tax campaigns year after year.   

The BIR campaigns include visits by BIR to discuss compliance with some taxpayers, and events in the regions encouraging individuals and businesses to fulfill their tax obligations. BIR officers have also engaged in dialogues to discuss tax policies, procedures and changes in tax laws and regulations.

The BIR has also introduced an enhanced chatbot named “Revie,” which is a 24/7 interactive assistant powered by artificial intelligence that directs taxpayers to the BIR’s services and answers tax-related concerns.

The BIR has also turned to social media platforms to disseminate information on new rules and regulations, policies, procedures and updates to various programs and projects. The use of social media as a channel for taxpayer outreach was authorized by RMO No. 7-2022.

The BIR has also conducted seminars and webinars to help taxpayers understand the importance of paying the correct taxes. During the tax filing season for example, a BIR webinar sought to guide corporations and partnerships in filing their income tax returns.

To further promote public awareness, the BIR has also reached out to students. Recently, the BIR issued Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 64 – 2023, announcing a nationwide search for the Philippines’ Brightest Buwis Masters of 2023 to encourage knowledge of tax laws among young people.

The highlight of the program is a Tax Quiz open to all college and university students.

The idea is to help the young gain a grasp of tax matters with the goal of eventually improving compliance among future taxpayers.

The BIR has thus amply demonstrated its efforts in promoting tax education, the idea being to minimize mistakes in compliance. It is, after all, not unusual in BIR audits to turn up errors like applying the wrong withholding tax rate, or whether fringe benefits tax applies to certain forms of compensation.

There are also cases where the dispute lies in documentation and substantiation of expense accounts, be it an issue of deductibility for income tax purposes or an issue of allowable input VAT on certain purchases. There are also instances where taxpayers are not knowledgeable or are confused about some procedures or type of documents for submission to the BIR.

All the above errors or apparent confusion can be avoided with proper knowledge of tax law and procedures. Surely, more challenges will be encountered in administering the tax system. However, with proper tax education, taxpayers will achieve and maintain compliance with less friction. Promoting tax education and strengthening tax awareness may thus be viewed as a means of equipping taxpayers in their journey.

Let’s Talk Tax, a weekly newspaper column of P&A Grant Thornton that aims to keep the public informed of various developments in taxation. This article is not intended to be a substitute for competent professional advice.


Maricel P. Katigbak is a senior manager from the Tax Advisory & Compliance division of P&A Grant Thornton, the Philippine member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd.