BIR to implement ‘fully-online’ application for OFWs

THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has vowed to implement a “fully online” application process for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), a leader of the House of Representatives said on Thursday.

The BIR made the commitment following a letter from House Committee Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda to BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay asking the agency to allow OFWs to apply for tax identification numbers (TINs) without the need for physical appearance.

According to Salceda, OFWs remit around $12 billion annually, “which makes them a bigger source of foreign currency than even foreign direct investments.”

“Imagine if we were able to invest some of their remittances in worthwhile programs and projects,” the lawmaker said.

On top of its commitment to make the application process fully online starting 2022, the BIR also said that OFWs may now apply for TINs through an authorized representative or via email if they need the TIN to contribute to the Personal Equity and Retirement Account (PERA).

“Of course, once OFWs have a TIN for PERA purposes, they will then be able to use that TIN for applying for a brokerage account, so this is good news,” Salceda said.

This, Salceda said, will be an opportunity “for OFWs who may be particularly interested in investing in Philippine stocks as a means for preparing for their return to the country and to secure the future of their family.”

“Due to the requirement that taxpayer information be verified by personal appearance in the Revenue District Offices (RDOs), OFWs who are still abroad are unable to open stock brokerage accounts without their TINs–and because getting a TIN requires personal appearance, they are practically locked out of the market,” Salceda wrote to BIR.

But Salceda said financial security after their stint abroad remains a challenge for OFWs, and allowing them to invest in stocks is one good way to help secure their future.

Salceda, however, said he is optimistic that the Consumer Financial Protection Act will be passed before Congress adjourns this year.

The lawmaker said that the passage of the law will be good for OFWs as they tend to be “frequently targeted by scammers who present fake or fraudulent investment schemes.”

This week, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said that the Consumer Financial Protection Act has a “strong chance” of being enacted in the 18th Congress if “interpellations are not heavy.”

Salceda is principal author of the Consumer Financial Protection Act, which has already been approved on third reading in the House.


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