THE Department of Finance (DoF) said the tax take from tobacco products rose by over 8% to P147.5 billion in 2019, accounting for more than half of the P269.1 billion of so-called “sin tax” collections.

Excise taxes from other “sin” products also rose, with taxes from alcoholic drinks rising to P79.7 billion from P71.1 billion in 2018. Collections from sweetened beverages rose 10.5% to P42 billion.

This year, Department of Finance (DoF) projects sin-tax collections at P332.3 billion following another round of tax hikes for alcohol, electronic cigarettes and vapor products.

This is projected to rise further to P480 billion by 2024.

Currently, higher excise taxes have been imposed on tobacco, alcohol, sweetened beverage, e-cigarette and vapor products.

Separately, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said its docket of unpaid tax cases covered P24.02 billion in 2019 over 347 separate complaints, amid stepped-up efforts to prosecute tax evaders.

Citing a report from the bureau, the DoF said in a statement Tuesday that the BIR was continuing to implement its Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program.

BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel S.D. Guballa said during a DoF Executive Committee (Execom) meeting that last year’s performance was a “marked improvement” from the number of cases filed in 2018, during which 197 complaints were filed before the Justice department, involving tax obligations worth P15 billion.

The 2019 totals involved 309 tax cases filed with the Department of Justice (DoJ) with liabilities estimated at P19.06 billion; and 38 complaints filed before the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), involving liabilities of P4.94 billion.

“As of Dec. 31, the BIR has 118 tax-related cases pending before the CTA,” Mr. Guballa said.

Under BIR’s Oplan Kandado program, the bureau collected a total of P1.92 billion in 2019 from the temporary closure of 743 establishments caught violating tax laws, against 233 establishments closed in 2018 which generated P799.47 million in collections. — Beatrice M. Laforga