Linggo, Enero 25, 2015

Wrapping it up on employee taxes

AT THE turn of each year, many employees are eager to find out whether they will receive a tax refund, or whether additional taxes will be withheld from their December paychecks. This concern arises from the annualization of compensation that every employer does at year’s end. Thus, it is important that employee taxes are properly computed to ensure that employees pay only what is due from them for the entire year and that no issues emerge during a Bureau if Internal Revenue (BIR) audit of employers.

Ideally, annualization should be done on or before the end of the calendar year, but prior to the payment of compensation for the last payroll period. Nonetheless, should this not be done yet, the employer still has the time to do the annualization prior to the January 25 deadline of refunding any over-withheld tax from the employee.

Here are some common issues on annualization of withholding taxes of employees and reminders on filing:

Basic personal and additional exemptions -- Every individual, regardless of tax status, is entitled to a P50,000 basic personal exemption. In addition, for every qualified dependent child, an additional exemption of P25,000 shall be available to the husband, unless a waiver in favor of the wife is executed. In case the husband is unemployed or working abroad, the wife automatically claims the additional exemption, provided required documents have been duly submitted.

In case a child was born or adopted within the year, such child can already be claimed as qualified dependent for the year, so long as necessary documents have been updated and properly filed with the BIR. If the employee fails to update his information, the excess tax withheld will not be refunded and will be forfeited in favor of the government. Employees should, therefore, properly submit certificates of update of exemption to be entitled to the additional exemption of P25,000.

On the other hand, in case a qualified dependent changes status during the year, such that his status shall no longer qualify him for exemption, an additional exemption of P25,000 can still be claimed during the year. It is only on the following year when the employee can no longer claim the exemption.

Considering the above rules on additional exemption, employers are then reminded to properly check the tax status of the employee prior to computing the tax due for the year. Any additional exemption not considered will definitely impact the employee’s net take home pay. Of course, employees can opt to file an annual income tax return and apply for refund. However, considering the cost and hassle of doing so, this recourse may no longer be an option for some employees.

Employees with previous employers -- Employers are required to annualize the employee’s compensation including that from previous employer (if employed within the same year). Thus, it is necessary that BIR Form 2316 issued by previous employer be provided by the employees to their current employer. Note that tax due of employees who failed to submit the same shall be computed only based on the compensation paid by the current employer. Hence, failure to provide the same may significantly result to higher tax payable upon filing of their individual annual income tax return. Employees with previous employers cannot qualify for substituted filing and are required to file their annual income tax return on or before April 15.

Taxable vs. non-taxable income -- Under existing revenue regulations, certain types of compensation income can be considered non-taxable and exempt from withholding. However, recent issuances/rulings by the BIR provide that those benefits considered non-taxable should be limited only to those specifically provided in the law as non-taxable (e.g. P30,000 tax exempt bonus, statutory contributions, de minimis benefits). In recent years, the BIR issued clarifications on the taxability of stock option plans, de minimis benefits, among others.

Hence, it is recommended that employers revisit their classification of employee benefits.

Tax returns and certificates -- Currently, employers who are considered withholding agents are required to submit monthly remittance return of income taxes withheld on compensation (BIR Form 1601-C), annual information return of income taxes withheld on compensation (BIR Form 1601-CF), together with the alphabetical lists (alphalists) of employees, and employee’s certificate of compensation payment/taxes withheld (BIR Form 2316). A copy of the latter is also required to be submitted to the BIR RDO where the company is registered on or before Feb. 28.

As of calendar year 2013, alphalists of employees are to be submitted either as attachments to the electronic Filing and Payment System (eFPS) or through e-submission/e-mail. Manual submission of diskettes, CDs or hard copies shall no longer be allowed.

Prior to filing, among other things, it must be ensured that the amount of compensation income and taxes withheld per monthly returns, annual returns, alphalist of employees, and employees’ BIR Form 2316 tie up. Also, such compensation income as reported in the returns must also tie up, or at least be reconcilable with the totals in the company’s books.

The above list includes only some of the reminders on employee withholding taxes. Other issues may arise considering the many rules on employee taxes.

At the end of the day, it is the employers who shall be subjected to audit by the BIR. Any taxable compensation income payment not subjected to withholding tax shall result in deficiency withholding tax and disallowance of expense. Thus, following the old adage “prevention is better than the cure”, a thorough review is highly recommended prior to filing.

Ma. Lourdes A. Politado-Aclan
Let’s Talk Tax
Punongbayan and Araullo

Martes, Enero 20, 2015

New Year’s list: Tax reminders at the start of the year

1. BIR Annual registration fee -- As a basic compliance requirement with the BIR, the annual registration fee should be paid on or before Jan. 31, 2015.

2. Renewal of LGU registration -- The annual renewal of business registration with the LGU consists of, but is not limited to, payment of local business tax (LBT), mayor’s permit fee, sanitary inspection fee, garbage fee, building inspection fee, electrical inspection fee, mechanical inspection fee, plumbing inspection fee, fire inspection fee, personnel fee, business plate registration fee, and other charges imposed by the different LGUs.

While LBT is due on or before Jan. 20, 2015, taxpayers may opt to pay this on installment basis within the first 20 days of each quarter. Establishments that fail to renew their business permit or license will not be allowed to operate within the territory of the LGU concerned. In Metro Manila, where LGUs strictly monitor establishments, businesses could be closed down for failure to secure new business permits.

3. Annual information return of income taxes withheld on compensation (BIR Form 1604-CF) -- The Annual information return and alphabetical list (alphalist) must be submitted on or before Jan. 31 of the year following the calendar year in which the compensation payment and other income payments subject to final withholding taxes were paid or accrued. The alphalist is required to be attached as an integral part of BIR Form 1604-CF under certain prescribed modes. The failure to submit the alphalist in the prescribed mode may be a reason for the disallowance of the related claimed expense.

4. Employees’ withholding statements (BIR Form 2316) -- Employees must be provided a copy of the corresponding BIR Form 2316 on or before Jan. 31 of the succeeding calendar year.

Additionally, the BIR now requires all employers to submit the duplicate copy of BIR Form 2316 to the BIR not later than Feb. 28 following the close of the calendar year. Please note that this is the second year that the said new requirement is in effect, and if an employer fails to comply with the submission of BIR Form 2316 for two consecutive years, there is a stiffer penalty as prescribed by the related BIR issuance.

5. Periodic filing of monthly and quarterly tax returns -- Monthly filing pertains to the regular filings of withholding taxes (on income payments subject to final tax, expanded withholding tax, and compensation tax) for the month of December. On the other hand, the quarterly filings refer to quarterly value-added tax (VAT) return and fringe benefits tax (FBT) return. The deadline for monthly submission is Jan. 15, 2015; however for EFPS-filers, dates for filing is based on your groupings. As for the quarterly VAT and FBT returns, the deadline for submission shall be Jan. 25 and Jan. 10 respectively. For EFPS-filers deadline for submission of FBT returns is on Jan. 15, 2015.

6. Submission of books of accounts -- This includes submission of computerized books of accounts and permanently bound computer-generated/loose-leaf books of accounts.

A. Loose-leaf books of accounts -- The deadline for submission of loose-leaf bound books of accounts for taxable year ending Dec. 31, 2014 is on Jan. 15, 2015.

B. Computerized books of accounts -- The deadline for submission of computerized books of accounts and other accounting records in CD-R, DVD-R, or other optical media for the year ending Dec. 31, 2014 is on Jan. 30, 2015.

7. Submission of inventory list -- Under existing tax regulations, taxpayers are required to file an inventory list of stock-in-trade, raw materials, goods in process, supplies, and other goods not later than 30 days after the close of the taxable year. Hence, taxpayers whose accounting period ends on Dec. 31, 2014 should file their annual inventory list on or before Jan. 30, 2015. It is important to ensure that the amount of ending inventory declared in the list can be reconciled with the amount reported in the annual income tax return.

The above list pertains to some of the more common requirements that a corporate taxpayer has to be aware of to avoid penalties, and in view of these numerous requirements, it is a prudent course of action to always check on a tax calendar for reminders. Taxpayers must also take note of holidays in January as this may affect compliance with set deadlines.

Jennylyn V. Reyes
Let’s Talk Tax
Punongbayan and Araullo

Miyerkules, Disyembre 17, 2014

Generosity, gift-giving and the 30% donor tax

IT’S THE most wonderful time of the year, with people worldwide gearing up for Christmas by dispensing gifts. The spirit of the season truly crosses all boundaries of culture, economic background or social status, and business people are definitely not immune to the wave of giving as they sign hefty checks to the objects of their generosity.

Before sending out those gifts, however, it is important to consider the tax implications. Almost everything is taxable, so it should not come as a surprise that the tax authorities also have their eye even on holiday acts of kindness.

Strictly speaking, gifts to strangers -- i.e., anybody who is not a sibling, spouse, ancestor, or lineal descendant; or a relative by consanguinity in the collateral line within the fourth degree of relationship -- are subject to 30% donor’s tax. However, gifts to qualified donee institutions duly accredited by the Philippine Council for Non-Government Organizations (NGO) Certification, Inc. (PCNC), are exempt from donor’s tax provided that the donor complies with certain conditions prescribed by law and other relevant issuances.

The Tax Code provides exemptions from donor’s tax on donations to qualified institutions. In addition, donors to these institutions may enjoy full deductibility of their gift from taxable income. However, to be entitled to the tax exemption, the donor engaged in business is required by Revenue Regulation (RR) No. 02-03 to submit a notice of donation on every gift worth at least P50,000 to the Revenue District Office (RDO) with jurisdiction over the donor’s place of business, within 30 days after receipt of the qualified donee institution’s duly issued certificate of donation.

The certificate of donation shall be attached to the notice of donation, stating that not more than 30% of the said donation/gifts for the taxable year shall be used by such accredited nonstock, nonprofit corporation/NGO institution (qualified-donee institution) for administration purposes pursuant to the provisions of Section 101 (A)(3) and (B)(2) of the Tax Code.

In addition to the requirements stated above, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) also recently issued Revenue Memorandum Circular No. (RMC) 86-2014 dated 5 December 2014, clarifying the valuation of contributions or gifts actually paid or made in computing taxable income, as part of the substantiation requirement under Section 8 of RR 13-98. Under the said 1998 revenue regulations, taxpayers claiming donations as deductions from gross income must present to the BIR the Certificate of Donation indicating the actual receipt and date of donation, and the amount of cash, or acquisition cost if in property.

The mandatory information under Section 8 of RR 13-98 is now required to be provided in the Certificate of Donation (BIR Form 2322) as prescribed by the new RMC 86-2014. BIR Form 2322 consists of two parts -- a donee certification and a donor’s statement of values. The donee certification indicates the donee’s confirmation of receipt of donation, the date it was received, and the amount of cash or the description of the property donated; and is signed by an authorized representative of the donee organization.

On the other hand, the donor statement provides the description, acquisition cost and net book value of the property donated as reflected in the financial statements of the donor, signed by an authorized representative. A copy of the sales document will also be required to support the acquisition cost claimed by the donor.

The numerous requirements unfortunately discourage the business sector in availing of the grant. It suppresses the spirit of giving by mandating requirements that negate the purpose of the incentive if not fully complied with and followed to the letter.

The Congress must evaluate the taxation of donations. Stringent requirements for the availment of tax incentives on donations discourage donors from continuing their generous contributions. There seems to be no logical reason for a donation to be taxed when the income from which such donation came from has already been taxed. If anything, generosity should be applauded and encouraged by the government.

The context of much giving is the calamities that plague our country. In most cases, victims of such calamities cannot depend on the government to provide for their needs. During such times, we can only turn to the private sector to augment the assistance to the victims by donating whatever resources they can spare. However, after donating whatever cash or property is available, the donor is then slapped with an astounding 30% donor’s tax. Why do we punish donors for their acts of kindness?

Yet, despite the difficulties imposed by the donor’s tax, we should always remember the true meaning of Christmas and celebrate this season with generosity and love. It is good to give generously and wholeheartedly. By all means let us be merry, but let us also be wise: before handing out precious gifts, remember to comply with the new requirements under RMC 86-2014 to avail of the exemptions.

On behalf of the Punongbayan & Araullo family, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

Iderlyn P. Magsambol-Demain
Let’s Talk Tax
Punongbayan and Araullo

Martes, Disyembre 16, 2014

Documentation for deductibility of donations

Pursuant to Section 8 of Revenue Regulations 13-98, taxpayers claiming donations as deduction from gross income in computing the income tax, must present to the BIR the Certificate of Donation indicating the actual receipt and date of donation and the amount of cash, or acquisition cost if in property

These information shall be provided in the Certificate of Donation (BIR Form 2322).  The Form consists of two parts:

1.  the donee certification on the receipt of the donation and indicating the date and amount of cash or description of the property donated, signed by an authorized representative.

2. the donor statement on the description, acquisition cost and net book value of the property donated as reflected in its financial statements, signed by an authorized representative.  Copy of the sales document will also be required to support the acquisition cost.

Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 86-2014, December 5, 2014
Tax Alerts
Punongbayan and Araullo

Martes, Disyembre 9, 2014

Emotional Pain Can Make You Change

 One day, I wanted to impress my girlfriend.
            Thankfully, I felt rich that day because I had P500 in my wallet.
So I invited her to eat in a nice restaurant.
            But a part of me still wondered if I really had enough money for the meal.
            I knew the restaurant's specialty was Crispy Pata or deep-fried pig's knuckles (Yep, I was still eating meat at that time). Quickly, I read the menu. It cost P150 only. Yes! I could afford it.
            I called the waiter and ordered Crispy Pata. With two cups of rice.
            To save money, I didn't order drinks. Thankfully, my girlfriend didn't order too. I smiled.  Things were going my way.
            At the end of our meal, the waiter brought in two little green bowls of Macapuno (sweetened coconut). So this was how it was in more expensive restaurants: They give free desserts!
            The waiter then gave me the bill.
            And that was when I felt like my soul jumped out my body for 10 seconds.
Because my bill was P561!
            With my heart racing, I called the waiter. I asked how my bill could be more than five hundred if I ordered only Crispy Pata worth P150?
            He showed me the menu again. He pointed out that it was P150 per 100 grams. With a smile on his face, he informed me that he served us 300 grams. Like he did me a favor!
So we ate a whopping P450 of Crispy Pata.
            And that wasn't the end of my trials. 
The waiter also pointed out that the Macapuno was P20 each. It wasn't free at all. So with the rice and the tax, the entire bill reached more than what I had in my wallet.
            So I did one of the most embarrassing things I ever did in my entire life—right up there with preaching with my zipper open. Sheepishly, I asked my girlfriend, "Uh, do you have money? I'm a little short…”
            Thankfully, she had a few pesos in her wallet.
            But both of us had nothing left for the waiter's tip.
            With my head bowed down, I walked out of the restaurant as fast as I could.
            Friends, this happened a long time ago. 
But I can never forget how this embarrassing experience gave me a wild fantasy. It may not be wild for you, but it was absolutely wild for me: I fantasized of a time when I had so much money, I could enter into any restaurant I wanted to, and order anything I wanted to—without even looking at the prices on the menu!
Call me silly. Call me juvenile. Call me crazy. But experiences like these were painful enough, they fueled my desire to become wealthy.
Write Down Your Emotional Why

            Think deeply.
            Why do you want to become a happy millionaire?
            Write down the reasons below.

"I will earn ­                   by                              .”
                       (Amount)                  (Date)

Here are my Emotional Whys for wanting to be a happy millionaire:

            Next, we work on your beliefs…

            May your dreams come true,

            Bo Sanchez

Sabado, Disyembre 6, 2014

Recourse against invalid subpoena

TO AID in the speedy conduct of tax investigations, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and its duly authorized officers are empowered to issue a Subpoena Duces Tecum (SDT) to taxpayers who deliberately refuse or ignore the request of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to submit books of accounts and/or other documents and records. In case of non-compliance, the BIR may also invoke the authority of the courts by filing a criminal case against a taxpayer. However, is there any available recourse to the taxpayer, in case the issued SDT does not comply with the prescribed guidelines and procedures?

In Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) 010-2013, submission of the taxpayer’s books of accounts must be done within fourteen days from the issuance of the SDT. The SDT must also be served on the taxpayer within three working days from the receipt of the revenue officers. Since the date of the issuance of the SDT is the date when it was officially signed by an authorized BIR official, it is very possible that the 14-day period given to the taxpayer to comply with, will be shortened. This is because the 14-day period does not commence from the receipt of the SDT but upon the date of its issuance. What will happen if the taxpayer received the SDT one day before the lapse of the 14-day period? Obviously, he may not be able to comply with it especially if the books of accounts or documents are voluminous. In a situation like this, what are the available remedies? Would the non-submission or incomplete submission of books of accounts and documents be tantamount to failure to obey the SDT, and therefore, subjects the taxpayer to administrative penalties?

Another thing to ponder: what if the revenue officer failed to comply with the three-day period to serve the SDT? Would such an infirmity invalidate it? The existing regulations are not clear on this. The rules only provide administrative liability to revenue officials and employees who failed to follow the guidelines and procedures on the issuance of the SDT.

Administrative rules and regulations are created to enforce the law and to implement its intent. Thus, like all laws, it must always withstand the test of reasonableness and must always be in harmony with the law. The 14-day period to comply with the SDT was put in place to afford the taxpayer a reasonable time to prepare and collate documents and accounting records. While the purpose of the SDT is to compel the taxpayer to submit such documents, the law did not envision impossibility of compliance. Therefore, the BIR must revisit the existing regulations so as to address circumstances like these.

Also, under the RMO, the revenue officer handling the particular case must be present during the designated time, date and place set for the presentation of books of accounts and other accounting records. This is to allow the officer to verify if the documents presented are substantially complete. Failure on the part of the revenue officer to do any of the aforementioned shall subject him to administrative liability. What will happen if the revenue officer does not appear on the date of compliance of SDT? Will this invalidate the SDT? Are there any remedies for the taxpayer who brings all the voluminous records and documents during the date of compliance set in the SDT?

The rules and regulations do not provide an answer. However, in most cases, the taxpayer is required to coordinate with the revenue officer for the submission of documents as the assigned action lawyer will not receive it. Now, this begs the question of whether the taxpayer is non-compliant with the SDT since no documents were received by the action lawyer due to the absence of the revenue officer.

It is worthy to note that in case of non-submission or incomplete submission of the books of accounts and other accounting records, the action lawyer assigned to the case shall request the concerned revenue officer to set a conference within five working days from the date set for compliance with SDT, to determine if there is sufficient evidence for the criminal prosecution of the taxpayer. While the regulations provide for a conference, in practice, even if the taxpayer subsequently submits all the documents to the action lawyer in the presence of the revenue officer, the BIR usually fails, probably due to lack of coordination, monitoring and heavy workload, to note the subsequent compliance of the taxpayer with the SDT. This results in the filing of a complaint with the Office of the Prosecutor.

As the filing of a complaint may result in criminal prosecution of the taxpayer, the BIR is duty-bound to strictly comply with the prescribed guidelines and procedures in the issuance and enforcement of SDT. Like any legal process, SDT must observe not only the substantive due process but also the procedural due process to protect the rights of the taxpayer.

Also, it is interesting to note that in RMO 010-13, the BIR deleted the provision found in RMO 88-2010 which allows the dismissal of the case before the Office of the Prosecutor or the Court upon payment of the penalty of P10,000 and upon presentation of joint certification of the revenue officer and authorized BIR officer on the compliance of SDT. In fact, in the said RMO, the BIR mandated that no prosecuting officer of the BIR shall cause the withdrawal or the dismissal of the case notwithstanding the subsequent submission of the document indicated in the SDT.

With the deletion of the aforementioned provision, will there be any recourse available to the taxpayer in cases of defective or invalid subpoena? Considering that the aforementioned circumstances are very prevalent today, it is highly suggested that the BIR revisit the existing rules and regulation on subpoena to guard not only the right of the government agency but also of the taxpayer. 

Farrah Andres-Neagoe
Let’s Talk Tax
Punongbayan and Araullo

Linggo, Nobyembre 30, 2014

Looking forward to Christmas and higher take home bonuses

IT’S 30 DAYS before Christmas and, though Christmas comes every year, most of us still get excited -- for the vacation days, the gifts, and, not least, the release of the 13th month pay.
Excitement over 13th-month pay was higher than usual this year because it looked like Congress might approve a higher tax exemption threshold for bonuses, raising the possibility of increased take-home pay at year’s end.

The House of Representatives is currently considering a threshold of P70,000 for tax-exempt 13th-month pay, up from P30,000 previously. House Bill 9470 has already been approved on third reading and transmitted to the Senate.

Meanwhile the Senate has approved on second reading the corresponding Senate Bill, which seeks to exempt P82,000 worth of bonuses from tax. According to the sponsors, this is the true current value of the original P30,000 cap when this law was approved in 1994.

Apparently, the higher exemption thresholds are not happening in 2014. Any enacted law is likely be implemented next year.

Nevertheless the higher thresholds remain a significant development for every employee.

How much will an employee benefit from the higher exemption?

Assuming that the employee’s total gross income is subject to the maximum rate of 32%, the differential between the current tax treatment and the proposed regime is as follows, for an employee earning P50,000 a month:

The increase in take-home pay is P16,000 for the employee and a decline in tax collections for the Bureau of Internal Revenue by a similar amount.

One of the major objections to increasing the tax exemption is the loss of income on the part of the government.

We note though that most estimates of the revenue loss did not take into consideration the additional income of the employee, which would lead to increased spending and create income for business establishments he patronizes.

The threshold for tax exemptions on 13th-month pay and other bonuses is an important form of tax relief given by the Government to salary earners, who are entitled to no other deduction apart from the personal exemption of P50,000 and,if applicable, additional personal exemptions of P25,000 for each qualified dependent up to a maximum of four.

Given that this privilege of P30,000 tax-exemption ceiling was crafted 20 years ago, I believe it is really time adjust the amount to a level equivalent to its 1994 value today.

While we are still at the P30,000 tax exemption, it is prudent for the companies to ensure that all the items that can be included in the ceiling of the tax exemption are properly considered so that the employee can fully enjoy the tax exemption and the net take home pay.

The least that the company can do is to ensure that the employees are not deprived of the only tax relief they can have.

 Richard R. Ibarra
Let’s Talk Tax
Punongbayan and Araullo