By Beatrice M. Laforga

EIGHT MONTHS into its implementation, the ongoing tax amnesty program has yielded over P1 billion in collections so far as more than 3,000 individuals have availed of the chance for a clean slate in their obligations, according to data from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay said in a mobile phone message on Monday that as of end-October, the BIR collected P887.07 million as 1,005 taxpayers availed the tax amnesty program for delinquent accounts.

For estate tax amnesty, Mr. Dulay said that 2,656 taxpayers have availed with P360.5 million in collections, as of Oct. 15.

The Finance department (DoF) had estimated that the government could raise up to P21 billion from tax amnesty for delinquent accounts, while estate tax amnesty could yield P6 billion.

BIR Deputy Commissioner Marissa O. Cabreros said the relatively small number of those availing of the offer was expected since Filipinos are known for procrastination. “We all know na behavior ng taxpayer natin is always near deadline mag-comply,” Ms. Cabreros said in a texst message.

Republic Act No. 11213, signed into law in February, states that taxpayers have a two-year window to avail of estate tax amnesty while those who want to avail of amnesty for delinquent accounts have a year to do so. Those periods start from the months when the BIR released guidelines for these amnesty offers: April forRevenue Regulations (RR) No. 4-2019 on delinquent accounts up to 2017 and May for RR 6-2019 for estate tax amnesty.

For Maria Lourdes P. Lim, tax managing partner of Isla Lipana & Co., PwC Philippines, “[t]he BIR should continuously urge taxpayers to avail of the program and not wait for the deadline. There should be more information dissemination of the benefits of the amnesty so taxpayers will be encouraged to avail.

DoF data show there were 18 tax amnesty programs implemented between 1972 and 2008, with the last one yielding P4.913 billion in collections.