PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the request of the Department of Finance (DoF) to negotiate with the US government the terms of a grant worth $809,450 (P39 million) that will support the modernization program of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

In a statement Wednesday, the DoF said it is planning to tap the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) for the grant to support the BIR’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Modernization Strategy and Data Center Technical Assistance Project.

Finance Undersecretaries Antonette C. Tionko and Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven, along with BIR Deputy Commissioner Lanee C. David, have been tasked to negotiate and facilitate the application for the grant with USTDA representatives.

Either Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III or BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay will be concluding, signing and executing the grant agreement.

The BIR’s modernization project will focus on improving the bureau’s infrastructure and operations.

“The project funded by the USTDA grant will ensure an in-depth technical assessment of the BIR’s current ICT environment, the development of an enterprise architecture road map, and an assessment of the organizational framework of the BIR’s Information System Group (ISG) including recommended restructuring and training programs,” the DoF said.

Mr. Dominguez said the bureau’s shift to digital operations helped it deliver better services and improve its tax collection performance during the pandemic.

The DoF said tax collections as a proportion of gross domestic product — an indicator known as tax effort — grew to 14.5% in 2019 from 13% in 2015.

He said the digital transformation also led more taxpayers to use electronic filing and payment systems for faster transactions, especially during the pandemic.

The bureau’s current electronic payment platforms include e-wallet applications Paymaya and G-Cash, and online banking channels such as the LANDBANK Linkbiz, DBP PayTax, Union Bank Online and PESONet.

The web-based Internal Revenue Integrated System, meant as a central repository to process taxpayers’ information, is targeted for nationwide implementation by the end of 2021, following its pilot launch in April last year.

Its Electronic Audited Financial System launched in June allows businesses to submit their financial statements to the bureau online. — Beatrice M. Laforga