For many people, filing tax returns is like paying their doctor a visit. You have to take time off your schedule to get it done. And you know you have to go through with it or you’ll have to deal with the repercussions. Often times, there will be a long line of tax payers which will put your patience to a test. The good news is the government has been adapting technology in their systems to make it easier for its constituents. This includes the tax agency which now has the facilities to allow you to file tax returns online in the Philippines.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue or the BIR is the tax collecting agency of the Philippines. For years, people have endured its manual filing system which has been cumbersome and tedious especially for those who have to make the deadline. In response to public clamor for greater efficiency and given the available technology, the BIR has introduced two (2) methods for filing tax returns online.
1. Electronic Filing and Payment System (eFPS)
Under Revenue Regulations No.9-2001, the BIR introduced the eFPS as an online facility for taxpayers to transmit their tax return information including attachments required by the government.
Who can use the eFPS? This was conceptualized to primarily accommodate the largest tax payers in the country. But the system was further developed and is presently available to all taxpayers.
But there are taxpayers who are mandated by law to use the eFPS. These are as follows:
- Taxpayer Account Management (TAMP) Taxpayers.
- Accredited Importer and Prospective Importer required getting the necessary BIR-ICC and BIR-BCC.
- National Government Agencies.
- All licensed contractors of the government.
- Enterprises with fiscal incentives.
- Top 5,000 corporations.
- Corporations with paid-up capital stock of over Php10 Million.
- Corporations with Computerized Accounting Systems.
- Procuring Government Agencies with respect to withholding of VAT and Percentage Taxes.
- Government Bidders.
- Stock Brokers.
- Insurance Companies.
- Top 20,000 Private Corporations.
Using the eFPS has many benefits to the taxpayer. Here are some of them:
- Convenient and easy to use system.
- Interactive; online user immediately gets feedback on all processing whether filing, enrolling or transacting e-payments.
- Fewer incidents of errors because all entries can be reviewed and validated by the taxpayer before submitting.
- Faster response time than manual filing.
- Accessible 24/7.
- Highly secure; all data transmission processes are high-encrypted.
- The associated cost of returns are minimized therefore eFPS is more cost effective.
- All e-filed tax returns with corresponding Filing Reference Number or FRN shall be considered stamped by the BIR except for Annual Income Tax Returns.
- eFPS will file store e-filed tax returns for future reference when needed.
Here is the list of procedures for using the eFPS:
- Enroll for the eFPS by accessing the BIR e-Lounge or the BIR website.
- You will be required to maintain an online banking facility that is integrated with the eFPS.
- Once you have been successfully enrolled, you can go to the eFPS website, fill out the required fields and submit the information.
- You will be given the FRN once the information has been received.
- If there is a default payment indicated, the next step is to click the “Proceed to Payment” button located below the FRN.
- Fill in the required information and the mode of payment then click “Submit”.
- Once payment has been successfully completed, a confirmation notice will appear on the screen.
2. Electronic BIR Forms (eBIRForms)
Under Revenue Regulations No. 6-2014, the BIR introduced the Electronic BIR Forms or eBIRForms as a facility for non-eFPS taxpayers and their accredited tax agents with an easy and convenient way of preparing and filing tax returns.
The eBIRForms offers the following packages:
- Offline Package. This features tax preparation software that enables taxpayers and their accredited tax agents the means to compute and validate their tax returns offline with very minimal chances of experiencing a human error. You can download the eBIRForm Offline Package from the BIR website or copy from the BIR RDO e-lounges via USB flash drives.
- Online Package. This is a system that accepts, processes, validates and stores tax returns transmitted online. It provides secure user accounts for taxpayers and their accredited tax agents plus Tax Software Providers or TSPs. Accredited tax agents can also use the Online Package to file on behalf of the taxpayer.
Using the eBIRForms facility is mandated for the following taxpayers under RR 6-2014:
- Accredited Tax Agents
- Clients who authorize accredited tax agents.
- Accredited printers of principal and supplementary receipts and invoices.
- ONETT or One-Time Transaction Taxpayers.
- Those with mixed income or income derived from compensation plus business and file a “No Payment” return.
- GOCCs or Government Owned and Controlled Corporations.
- Local Government Units or LGUs with the exception of barangays and cooperatives that are registered with the NEA or National Electrification Administration or LWUA or Local Water Utilities Administration.
Similar to eFPS, eBIRForms offers many benefits to the taxpayer:
- Faster and more convenient; the system uses automated computations and auto-populated fields.
- Easy to navigate and use.
- Validation feature lessens the risk of human error.
- Accessible even for taxpayers who have an unstable internet connection.
- Manages taxpayer information.
- Lessens the need for manual encoding.
Here is the procedure for using eBIRForms to file tax returns:
- Download the latest eBIRForm Offline package then exit the website to lessen congestion.
- Choose the form and fill in the required data in the return.
- Validate after encoding all of the required information.
- You can save a copy of the final tax return by clicking on “Final Copy”.
- Go online and use the Online eBIRForm system to electronically transmit the tax return. The system will ask you for a Username and Password.
- You will be given an FRN as proof the tax return has been received.
- If the submission of the return was unsuccessful, click the “Final Copy” button to access the alternative mode for the submission of tax returns. The system will send you an e-mail confirming receipt of the tax returns.
Are there exemptions from electronic filing?
With reference to Section 4(3) of RR 6-2014 and RR 5-2015, all returns filed as “No Payment” shall be filed electronically through eBIRForms. But the following taxpayers have the option to manually file their “No Payment” returns:
- Senior Citizens or Persons with Disabilities.
- Taxpayers who are earning purely compensation income from one or more employers.
- Taxpayers who have qualified for substituted filing under RR 2-98 Sec. 2.83.4 but instead opted to file their Income Tax Return or ITR for the purpose of promotion, an intent of acquiring loans, scholarship, and as required for foreign travel.
It is great that the government has started to embrace the power of technology. Many government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission or SEC, Department of Trade and Industry or DTI have made business registration easier by have online facilities available for entrepreneurs.
The citizenry wants to do their share in abiding by all the laws and procedures of the land. However, the government must also do its share in recognizing that conditions exist that discourage timely fulfillment of these obligations. And the government is accountable for addressing these conditions such as traffic and rundown facilities. Acknowledging the benefits of technology is a step in the right direction.
As the old saying goes, “Better late than never!”