AROUND 3,254 online sellers have registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) by the end of July, with the enrolment deadline extended by a month.

BIR Deputy Commissioner for Operations Arnel SD. Guballa said in a text message that the businesses registered after the bureau issued Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 60-2020 in June, making enrolment mandatory.

Mr. Guballa said roughly 97% or 3,148 were registered as individual online vendors while the remaining 3% or some 106 businesses were corporations.

The bureau issued RMC No. 75-2020 on Wednesday extending the last day of registration to Aug. 31.

The BIR said in the new circular that there will be no penalty for businesses that voluntarily declare and pay taxes on past transactions.

“All those who will be found later doing business without complying with the registration/update requirements, and those who failed to declare past due taxes/unpaid taxes shall be imposed with the applicable penalties under the law, and existing revenue rules and regulations,” according to the circular.

Due to the surge in online transactions during the lockdown, the BIR reminded businesses selling goods and services through online platforms of their tax obligations.

The Department of Finance (DoF) said in May it is working with the BIR on measures that will capture the potential value-added tax (VAT) leakages in the digital economy. The DoF estimates up to P17 billion in fresh VAT collections from online transactions.

On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill imposing 12% VAT on digital services provided by companies such as Facebook and Netflix, Inc.

The government’s move to tax e-commerce proved controversial, but officials stuck to their guns and cited the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, which sets the ceiling for tax-exempt annual income at P250,000. Other laws exempt from VAT entities with gross sales below P3 million. — Beatrice M. Laforga