The Department of Finance (DOF) will soon release an order allowing the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to grant new importers a provisional accreditation that will allow them to import while they work on their accreditation with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
New accreditation rules issued by DOF in February mandate a two-step process in which importers and customs brokers must first secure an importer clearance certificate (ICC) or broker clearance certificate (BCC) from the BIR before filing for BOC accreditation. The accreditation deadline lapsed on July 31.
A PortCalls source from the BOC said initial discussions with the DOF indicate that the provisional authority could cover four months. Once an importer brings in goods using the provisional authority, he can then apply for an ICC with the BIR.
The source said the DOF order may also require a paid-up capital of P1 million for new importers; single proprietorships may also no longer be given accreditation. The source said the potential new equity requirement is justified considering many importers bring in goods with duties valued in the millions, making the extra capital requirement a non issue.
Importers denied accreditation by the BIR but had been previously registered under BOC’s Client Profile Registration System could be allowed to import under the soon-to-be released DOF order, the source said, as long as the transaction is considered “first and last”, meaning the importation is for one time only – presumably until such time when an accreditation from the BIR is secured.
The DOF order is meant to address BIR’s outright denial of accreditation among new importers.
BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, in a July 23 memo to BIR-Accounts Receivables Monitoring Division (BIR-ARMD) chief Rosana San Vicente, ordered the denial of application of newly registered taxpayers not on the BOC’s list of accredited importers and brokers as of February 2014.
Henares said new importers may only re-file their application after completing a single importation with the BOC. Furthermore, re-filing will be allowed only after three months from denial of their application and after showing proof of already being a regular user of BIR’s Electronic Filing and Payment System (eFPS) and being a compliant taxpayer in accordance with BIR Memorandum Order No. 10-2014. BIR RMO No. 10-2014 prescribes the guidelines for accreditation and revocation of accreditation of importers and customs brokers.
“This requirement is anchored on the principle that BIR clearance for accreditation as importer or broker can only be issued based on the taxpayer’s record of performance with respect to the level of tax compliance,” Henares said in the memo.
For importers previously not covered by accreditation requirements of the BOC (not included in the February 2014 list provided by the BOC, such as taxpayers registered with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and Philippine Economic Zone Authority), Henares said they may only be issued a BIR ICC “if in addition to the other compliance requirements, they are already regular users of the eFPS. Considering that they were already mandated to use the said system in filing their tax returns and paying the taxes due thereon through the said facility since 2010 pursuant to Revenue Regulation 1-2010, outright denial of the application must be made for non-compliance therefore. It is further informed that issuance of provisional BIR ICC for taxpayers under this is sector prohibited.”
Meanwhile, not all importers and brokers were able to meet the July 31 deadline for accreditation application.
Charo Logarta-Lagamon, chief of BOC-public information and assistance division, told PortCalls in a text message there were about 8,600 importers and brokers that applied for accreditation with BOC as of July 30. This represents only 57.4% of the 14,995 importers and brokers in the BOC database.
Atty Jemina Sy-Flores, head of BOC’s Accounts Management Office, separately told PortCalls they are still collating the actual number of applicants that were able to apply within the deadline.
It is not clear if the soon-to-be released DOF memo will provide rules for existing taxpayers that altogether missed the deadline for BIR accreditation. — Roumina Pablo
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