DOF seeks US help for tax academy

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) is seeking the help of the US government in the establishment of the country’s first tax academy to serve as a training institution and provide revenue officials and employees continuing professional education.

In a meeting with US Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs David Malpass in Washington, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez pitched a possible grant from the US to fund the establishment of the tax academy.

Dominguez told Malpass the DOF plans to set up the Philippine Tax Academy in January as part of the long-term initiative of the DOF in professionalizing the Bureaus of Internal Revenue and of Customs.

“Both (agencies) are under me and we’re doing short-term things but really, in the long term, we need better skills, better ethics,” Dominguez said.

The finance chief also briefly discussed the DOF’s tax academy project in a recent forum in Washington DC organized by the US think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Dominguez said a previous US grant that aims to improve business processes and revenue collections in the BIR was partly instrumental in the success of the Philippines’ recent effort to collect the largest sum of taxes ever from a single corporate entity.

“The assistance to us really bore fruit. Because of the help they gave us in improving the skills of the BIR in analyzing data, we were able to nail the largest tax-fraud case in history. We collected $600 million recently from a cigarette company that was cheating on taxes, and I said to some extent that’s due to the help of the US,” Dominguez earlier said.

He was referring to Mighty Corp., which promptly offered to settle its tax liabilities and shut down its operations after the BIR had lodged three criminal complaints against it over the use of counterfeit tax stamps.

According to Dominguez, the government stands to gain almost P40 billion in additional revenues from the “sin” tax on tobacco products starting in 2018, following the move by Mighty Corp. to settle its tax liabilities, close shop and sell its assets to Japan Tobacco Inc.

Dominguez said the planned tax academy would not involve any construction of new buildings but would focus on training revenue and customs officers to improve their efficiency and competencies in tax matters.

Malpass said Dominguez’s plan to save on funds by just renting out space in local community colleges and universities to house the campuses of the tax academy was a “good idea.”

Dominguez said establishing the tax academy, which is mandated by law, would help initiate a “culture change” within the BIR and BOC.

“We could use a lot of help from (the United States). You have a very good IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and Customs, and we can learn certainly a lot from you,” Dominguez told Malpass.     

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 19, 2017 – 12:00am

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