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Alcoholic drinks to start bearing tax stamps in 2018

Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz  & Rea Cu  

The Department of Finance (DOF) will start implementing the tax-stamps scheme for alcoholic beverages early next year.

The assurance was made by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III after a lawmaker criticized the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for failing to implement it. “Probably early next year,” said Dominguez, when asked for the timeline of the implementation of the tax-stamps system covering alcoholic drinks.

Dominguez said the Internal Revenue Stamps Integrated System (IRSIS) will be implemented for liquor, with the BIR already signing a memorandum of agreement with the APO Production Unit Inc. for the printing of the stamps. He said IRSIS is needed to plug leakages and help increase revenue collection of the government.

On Tuesday Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio  of ACT Teachers said the required tax stamps still cannot be found on locally produced alcohol products five years after the passage of the “sin” tax law.

“We deplore the abject failure of the BIR to implement a system of excise-tax stamps for alcoholic beverages. It’s been five years since the enactment of the sin-tax law, which mandates that such stamps are affixed on every bottle of locally produced distilled or fermented beverages, as proof of payment of excise tax,” Tinio said.

“Up to now, not a single bottle sold in the country has the required stamp. This means that the consumer paying the higher price has no assurance that the sin tax actually went to the  government,” he added.

In contrast, Tinio said the tax-stamp system has long been in place for tobacco products, with the case of Mighty Corp. focusing attention to the use of counterfeit excise-tax stamps to evade taxes.

“For as long as stamping of alcoholic beverages is not being implemented, that massive loophole is there to be exploited. In my view, Congress should not entertain proposals for new taxes for as long as the BIR cannot properly implement existing tax laws,” he said.

“However, there’s no excuse for the BIR to in effect give perversely preferential treatment to local alcoholic-beverage manufacturers by dragging its feet and giving them a free pass on the excise-tax stamp requirement,” the lawmaker said.

BIR Assistant Commissioner Teresita M. Angeles told lawmakers that the new cigarette-tax stamps will be out by October this year.

Angeles said before the implementation of the sin-tax law, the country has generated P32.16 billion from locally manufactured cigarettes in 2013. With the sin-tax law in place, excise taxes doubled to P67.94 billion in 2014.

Some P90 billion in excises taxes were collected in 2015, although collections decreased to P85.9 billion in 2016 due mainly to the proliferation of fake-tax stamps, the implementation of the graphic health-warning law and cigarette smuggling.

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