Presidential adviser pushes for delayed registration of online sellers

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Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion is asking the government to delay business registration and collection of taxes from online sellers until next year.

Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion

In a webinar on Wednesday, June 17, Concepcion said the increase in online sellers during the quarantine period was due to the closing down of some business establishments and suspension of work or laying off of employees by some companies.

“Unfortunately, there is a clampdown [to push] these people to register. And I am appealing to [the] government to just give them a couple of months since many of them are trying to be an entrepreneur,” he said.

He added the government can require the registration of online business owners by January 2021. “Basically many of them are out of a job and trying to save money for the next meal, we should allow these people to continue and then be stricter later on,” Concepcion said.

On June 10, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) issued a memorandum requiring online business owners to register their activities and declare past transactions subject to pertinent taxes and then pay the taxes due thereon.

BIR deputy commissioner Arnel Guballa said registering with the agency will ensure that businesses are operating legally.

In an interview during the Laging Handa PH program aired over state-owned PTV, Guballa said small business owners need not worry about paying taxes if their earnings do not exceed P250,000 annually since they are exempted from paying income tax.

He said registration fee for online sellers is P500 and is the only fee they need to pay unless they do not qualify for tax exemption. “What we want to tax are the big businesses involved in digital transactions like Lazada and those operated by foreign entities like Netflix,” he added.

Guballa further said the call for business owners with digital operations to register with BIR has been made since 2013. “We just reiterated recently because the number of businesses engaged on online selling rose during the lockdown,” he said.

Guballa said what the government wants is to collect value-added tax (VAT) from big businesses using digital transactions. For service providers that have main offices overseas like Netflix, Guballa said tax that will be collected is VAT since its service is being consumed locally.

Registration of all businesses is the first step for BIR to know who to run after, he said. “We want to know the total population (of those using digital transactions),” he added. — Joann Villanueva, Kris Crismundo (PNA)

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