Purisima tells BIR to go after ‘The Invisible 500’

Published by rudy Date posted on March 31, 2011

FINANCE Secretary Cesar Purisima on Tuesday asked Internal Revenue to go after “The Invisible 500,” rich people who live in the most exclusive subdivisions and are members of golf and yacht clubs.

Speaking during the Open Budget Forum at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City, Purisima said he was surprised to find that many people who were considered among the wealthiest in the country were not in the list of the top 1,000 taxpayers.

“When you look at the top 500 or top 1,000 taxpayers, you’ll be shocked,” he said.

“For those of you who are familiar with [the members] of society here who live in these villages, who go to these expensive clubs, there are names who you don’t see. In fact, for me, the more important is The Invisible 500.”

Purisima did not name anyone, but said the Finance Department was working on various programs with Internal Revenue to collect more taxes from the rich and Customs to get more taxes from importers.

To make sure the large companies paid the right taxes, he said, the Finance Department would use external data such as the survey results of market research firm Nielsen.

“If we can get—and we plan to buy those information—we’re creating a model that will now allow us to create estimates of taxes and duties based on market share data per industry,” Purisima said.

He called for a closer coordination between Internal Revenue and Customs to make sure importers paid the right taxes.

“One of the exercises we’ve done recently is to compare the top 7,000 importers with the top 5,000 or 10,000 taxpayers. True enough, there’s a substantial mismatch,” he said.

A typical smuggler gives the wrong address, sets up a new company, or uses fictitious names to import goods, according to Purisima.

“And therefore, when you catch them, when you look for them, you can’t find them because normally the address is in some shanty, or normally the address is the wrong address,” he said.

“We’re going through this process because the theory is that if you are a substantial importer, then you must be one of the large taxpayers.”

The BIR is tasked to collect P940 billion this year, and Customs P340 billion. –Roderick T. dela Cruz, Manila Standard Today

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