The Electronic Filing and Payment System (EFPS) of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) aims for a more advanced system of filing of tax returns to ultimately make the process convenient and easy for citizen filers. In 2013, the BIR introduced the Electronic BIR Forms Package, a platform that assists non-EFPS taxpayers to accomplish a tax return electronically. (Read: eBIRForms: Everything You Need to Know)
The movement by the BIR from the traditional manual filing to an electronic system while admirable in its intentions presented deficiencies along the way. It was met by brickbats from taxpayers and those who didn’t avail of accounting services in the Philippines from a third-party, especially when the eBIRForms system was abruptly made mandatory by the BIR on March 17, 2015—less than a month before the April 15 deadline. Previously, in its first two years, the eBIRForms was only optional. Taxpayers complained about the untimely mandate while others who chose to comply were met by glitches and timeouts in the BIR website that all the more complicated the process.
eBIR Forms in 2015 and Beyond
Following the flak the BIR got from due to the issuance of Revenue Regulations (RR) No. 5-2015 or the mandatory use of the eBIRForms system in electronically submitting and filing tax returns by non-EFPS filers, the BIR heeded the taxpayers’ appeals. They issued Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 10-2015 which instructed respective Revenue District Offices (RDO) to accept individual annual income tax returns (BIR Form 1700) manually filed by employees of large taxpayer (LT) employers.
This was followed by RMC 12-2015 which allowed senior citizens and persons with disability (PWD) to manually file their “no payment” returns.
RMC No. 18-2015 was also subsequently issued to allow the use of preprinted tax returns and the manual filing of “no payment” tax returns on or before the April 15 filing deadline. However, the BIR had required the manually filed returns to be re-filed electronically on or before 15 June 2015.
Thereafter, as there were still many questions on e-filing, RMC No. 19-2015 was issued on April 13, 2015 to clarify frequently asked questions from taxpayers relative to the implementation of the electronic platform (eFPS and eBIRForms). The RMC proved very helpful particularly in identifying taxpayers who are mandatorily required to e-file.
Do your part, keep updated
The BIR must understand that the shift to the electronic mode required a gradual transition that should have comprised a wide dissemination of the process and education of taxpayers. This also goes without saying that the BIR should postpone the EFPS and allow taxpayers to file returns manually until they themselves have perfected the automated system.
On the one hand, taxpayers must acknowledge that the BIR is upgrading their process so far and that they are undergoing a transition period. Hence doing one’s own homework—keeping updated with BIR’s process and guidelines, and filing one’s tax returns ahead of the deadline will greatly help in making the process easier for both parties.
Staying educated, vigilant, and applying the best practices to ensure compliance are key to hassle-free tax filing!
Author’s bio: Danella Yaptinchay is the managing director of Full Suite (full-suite.com), a service company providing back end support to small businesses. She is a cofounder of Co.lab, a coworking space, and of the media company Homegrown. In constant pursuit of balance and self-development, she tries to apply the practices of yoga to her daily life.