The Finance Department plans to tap a grant from the United States to establish the Philippines’ first tax academy that will serve as a training institution to provide revenue officials and employees professional education on improving tax collection competence and efficiency.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a statement he pitched the project in a recent meeting in Washington D.C. with David Malpass, the US Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs.
Dominguez told Malpass that the Philippine Tax Academy, which the DOF planned to set up in January, would be a long-term initiative in professionalizing the Bureaus of Internal Revenue and of Customs.
“Both [agencies] are under me and we’re doing short-term things but really, in the long term, we need better skills, better ethics,” Dominguez said of the planned tax academy project during the meeting with Malpass.
The finance chief also briefly discussed the DOF’s tax academy project in a recent forum in Washington organized by US think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Dominguez said a previous US grant that aimed to improve business processes and revenue collections in the BIR was partly instrumental in the success of the Philippines’ recent effort to collect the largest sum of taxes ever from a single corporate entity.
“The assistance to us really bore fruit. Because of the help they gave us in improving the skills of the BIR in analyzing data, we were able to nail the largest tax-fraud case in history. We collected $600 million recently from a cigarette company that was cheating on taxes, and I said to some extent that’s due to the help of the US,” Dominguez said at the CISS forum.
He was referring to Mighty Corp., which promptly offered to settle its tax liabilities and shut down its operations after the BIR had lodged three criminal complaints against it over the use of counterfeit tax stamps.
Dominguez said the government stood to gain almost P40 billion in additional revenues from the “sin” tax on tobacco products starting 2018, following the move by Mighty Corp. to settle its tax liabilities, close shop and sell its assets to Japan Tobacco Inc.
Dominguez said the planned tax academy would not involve any construction of new buildings but would focus on training revenue and customs officers to improve their efficiency and competencies in tax matters.
Malpass said Dominguez’s plan to save on funds by just renting out space in local community colleges and universities to house the campuses of the tax academy was a “good idea.”
Dominguez said establishing the tax academy, which was mandated by law, would help initiate a “culture change” within BIR and BOC.
“We could use a lot of help from [the United States]. You have a very good IRS [Internal Revenue Service] and Customs, and we can learn certainly a lot from you,” Dominguez told Malpass.