THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said it is still working on the new tax stamps for cigarettes and alcohol to ensure the robustness of their security features.

“With reference to the stamps… there are some things that are needed to be ironed out because we don’t want to just be imposing our rushed stamps and they’re easily faked or reproduced so it defeats the purpose,” BIR Deputy Commissioner Marissa O. Cabreros said in a news conference at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Friday.

She said that the BIR is in contact with potential suppliers to ensure that the new tax stamps will have adequate security features.

Tax stamps indicate that cigarettes or alcohol products have paid the required tax before exiting a controlled warehouse.

A bill pending in Congress seeks to impose higher excise taxes on cigarettes, tobacco-alternative products as well as alcohol products.

Earlier this year, the BIR discovered that some firms were offering to buy from the public tax stamps from used cigarette packs in exchange for goods such as sardines or instant noodles. The old tax stamps are believed to be reused on smuggled or illegally-produced cigarettes.

Some companies illegally producing cigarettes have been printing their own tax stamps to evade taxes.

Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito G. Lambino II said at the same event that the recent order of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to ban imports of vapor products as well as the use of such products in public may likely result in P1-3 billion worth of foregone revenue for the government based on what it could have earned from higher excise taxes.

“I think at the first year it’s around P2 billion but certainly between P1-3 billion in the first year,” Mr. Lambino said when asked for an estimate of the ban’s revenue impact.

Undersecretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said the department is awaiting an executive order (EO) on the ban’s details to come up with a more detailed estimate.

The Bureau of Customs officials has ordered a ban on entry of imported vapor products following the President’s order.

The Department of Finance (DoF) had been lobbying Congress to increase the excise tax on so-called “sin” products to reduce consumption and to generate revenue for the universal health care program, which is set to roll out next year.

Senate Bill No. 1074 adopted the DoF’s proposals for the higher excise taxes, which were projected to generate P47.9 billion across all product lines in 2020.

House Bill No. 1026, which was approved on Aug. 20, proposes lower tax rates and is expected to generate collections of P16.3 billion in 2020. — Beatrice M. Laforga