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BIR opposes creation of Nat’l Taxpayer Advocate Office

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is opposing the proposed creation of a National Taxpayer Advocate Office as it will be a redundancy of functions being performed by the taxman and the Court of Tax Appeals.

During the hearing of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means on Thursday, BIR Deputy Commissioner Marissa Cabreros said the agency supports Senate Bills 1077 and 1199 which “support the institutionalization of a Taxpayers Bill of Rights which will serve as guiding principle in formulating tax policies and promoting taxpayer awareness of their rights and protection.”

Senate Bill No. 1077, authored by Senator Lito Lapid, is titled “An Act to Define and Protect the Rights of Taxpayers” while Senate Bill No. 1199, authored by ways and means panel chairperson Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, is titled “An Act Ordaining a Bill of Rights and Obligations of the Taxpayer.”

However, the BIR, Cabreros said, opposes the creation of the Office of the National Taxpayer Advocate contained in the proposed Senate bills.

She said that “it merely transfers most of the powers of the BIR to the National Taxpayer Advocate and that powers and authorities given to it merely duplicate those being exercised by the Court of Tax Appeals and regular courts.”

“Moreover, the proposed bills create additional expenditures for the government considering the hefty capital needed for the establishment of the Office of the National Taxpayer Advocate and its respective offices,” she added.

Under the proposed measures, the Office of the National Taxpayer Advocate shall be attached to the Department of Justice while the National Taxpayer Advocate shall have the rank of undersecretary.

Among its powers, functions, and responsibilities are to assist taxpayers in their concerns relative to tax and customs laws such taxpayer registration, filling and payment of taxes, settling deficiency tax assessments, and resolving disputes with revenue authorities.

The tax advocate office can also issue a “stay order.”

Cabreros said the BIR already has an office of Client Support Service which is basically tasked in administering frontline services to taxpayers.

“There is a potential duplication of work because that is already embedded in the structure of the BIR, the monitoring of taxpayers’ rights,” she said.

“The proposal indicates the issuance of a stay order which means suspending the assessment and collection of taxes which are not aligned with the bloodline theory existence of the government that’s why we are covered already by the provisions of Court of Tax Appeals that they are the ones authorized injunctions against the BIR whenever the subject matter involves the collection of taxes. The duplication involves what is exercised already by the Court of Tax Appeals with reference to preventing the BIR from pursuing assessment and collections,” Cabreros said.

Gatchalian, for his part, said he does not want duplication of function, noting that the proposed creation of the Office of the National Taxpayer Advocate “still needs to be refined.”

Finance Assistance Secretary Dakila Napao said, during the hearing, that the Department of Finance “would like to work closely with the Committee on Ways and Means to ensure that the proposed roles of the National Taxpayer Advocate office will be harmonious with the existing structures that we have.” — RSJ, GMA News