Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III defended on Wednesday the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) after the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) identified the agency as “most complained”.
Dominguez said he does not find unusual that BIR topped the list of the ARTA’s “most complained agency” in terms of services due to the nature of its function.
“First of all it’s not strange that people will complain about the BIR. The BIR’s essential function is to collect taxes, so people, I think are very hesitant to part with their money and BIR sometimes has to [do its job]– and you know, some of the complaints may not be valid at all,” the Department of Finance (DOF) chief said in the Senate finance committee’s deliberation of their P18.28-billion proposed 2021 budget.
“Let me put it this way, I mean, if somebody is your bill collector, I don’t think he is the most popular in your household,” he added.
The BIR is an agency under the DOF.
During the hearing, Sen. Maria Josefa Imelda “Imee” Marcos sought the BIR’s explanation on the ARTA’s recent presentation that the state tax collector had the highest number of complaints in terms of transacting to the public and implementing the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Act.
ARTA director-general Jeremiah Belgica said that of the 3,924 complaints they received as of August 31, 2020, 937 were lodged against the BIR.
Belgica quickly noted, however, that the number of complaints does not necessarily equate to the prevalence of red tape, and that agencies that frequently deal with individuals usually get more complaints.
BIR Commissioner Cesar Dulay said the ARTA did not coordinate with them regarding the fact that there is a high number of complaints against the agency.
He said that based on latest BIR records, there were only 31 remain “active cases” before them that they have already resolved 187 complaints.
Dulay said 719 of the 937 complaints that were attributed them were not forwarded to them for action.
“We asked the ARTA to clarify the figures that they presented…We have given our report to the Secretary of Finance and they (ARTA) admitted that a lot of those were not referred to BIR,” he said.
Dulay assured the Senate panel that digitization efforts to improve the BIR’s process and services have been ongoing since 2019.