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‘Taxpayers not ATMs’

  • Written by Bernadette E. Tamayo
  • Published in Nation
  • Read: 308

SENATOR Sonny Angara has pressed for the passage of the law that enshrines taxpayers’ rights.

He has filed Senate Bill No. 308 which grants the taxpayer the right to be refunded for excess payments or have penalties cancelled when there are errors in assessment.

“Taxpayers, are not ATMs -- automatic taxpaying members of society -- who are not entitled to information nor to redress of grievances, and whose only duty is to pay without question,” said Angara.

He grouped the taxpayer’ s rights into three: Basic Rights, Rights in Civil Cases, Rights in Criminal Cases.

In civil cases, among the rights of the taxpayer is the opportunity to have the case amicably settled if warranted.
   
“While taxpayer’s duties are well-known, and which in fact he performs every time he buys something with a Value Added Tax in it, but more often than not, he does not fully know what his rights are,” said Angara.
   
SBN 308 provides that the taxpayer should be informed of impending collection actions which require sale or seizure of property or freezing of assets, except jeopardy assessments.
   
“The right to seek review, through formal or informal proceedings, of any adverse decisions relating to determinations in the audit or collection processes and the right to seek a reasonable administrative stay enforcement action,” he said.
   
Other rights during civil cases are the right to request cancellation, release, or modification of liens “erroneously” filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs and the right   to waiver of interest arising from an error or delay caused by a revenue employee.
   
The taxpayer’s basic rights include the right “to available information and prompt and accurate responses to questions and requests for tax assistance.”
   
Angara also listed “the right to fair and consistent application of the tax laws, the right to have assistance of counsel, the right to expeditious tax audits, the right to request for installment payment of  liabilities under any compromise settlement.”
   
The bill also enumerates the “taxpayers’ rights in criminal tax cases” which begins with the right to be knowledgeably, intelligently and timely informed of the charges.
   
He said any move to deny the taxpayer documents and information is prohibited as the bill guarantees “the right to be served with all the necessary documents” on time. 
   
Likewise, a taxpayer can invoke the “right to procedural safeguards with respect to recording of interviews during tax determination or collection processes conducted by the BIR and the BoC.”
   
“I have also included a provision mandating that in all dealings, the taxpayer has the right to be treated in a professional manner by any revenue personnel. All encounters between the taxman and the taxpayer must be pleasant,” he said.
   
To enforce these rights, Angara is proposing the creation of an independent   Office of the National Taxpayers Advocate. The primordial duty of the National Taxpayers Advocate is to promote and protect the rights of the Filipino taxpayers, he said.