The Department of Finance last week issued Department Order No. 12-2014 requiring importers to be cleared by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) before they are accredited to import through the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Applicants seeking to register as importers with the BOC will now have to pass through stringent verification procedures by the BIR to get the necessary BIR Importer Clearance Certificate (BIR-ICC). This move allows the BIR to use its extensive taxpayer database and information technology system to get more complete information in accrediting importer-applicants, the DOF said in a statement.
The Commissioner of Internal Revenue shall issue the necessary documentary requirements, rules and regulations for the issuance of the BIR-ICC. On the other hand, the Commissioner of Customs will determine the rules and regulations for the registration of importers accredited by the BIR, and the suspension of accreditation in cases of violations of customs laws and regulations.
“This new requirement will also benefit the importing public from a trade facilitation perspective because this Order no longer pursues the renewal of accreditation every year, which has previously been the cause of great public distress. With the new accreditation rules, the BIR certification will serve as a tool to make a longer term accreditation possible, with the condition of compliance with our customs and tax laws,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima added.
“The BIR accreditation system is an essential step in our efforts for importer accountability and compliance. With the BIR database on registered taxpayers, we will be in a better position to determine whether an importer is doing legitimate business, and whether they are paying the right taxes.” Purisima said.
The BIR and BOC commissioners will issue the rules and regulations for accreditation within 15 days from the issuance of DO No. 012-2014. Importers will have ninety 90 days from the date of issuance of the rules to comply otherwise their accreditation will automatically expire when the 90-day period lapses.
The DOF, through DO No. 13-2014, also issued rules on the provisional lifting of suspension of importers’ accreditation pending as of December 2013.
Importers caught in the transition of the transfer of post entry audit function from the BOC to the DOF will need to follow the BIR rules in issuing an ICC, in order for the DOF-FIU to properly recommend to the BOC the lifting of their suspension.
Purisima noted that with the BIR handling accreditation, and the DOF Fiscal Intelligence Unit (FIU) handling the post entry audits for duties, this will greatly improve institutional checks and balances with the BOC.
“This is a coordinated policy response against smuggling because if you take a look at the import process as a continuous chain, the new BIR importer accreditation serves as a systemic filter to weed out importers who are either not registered taxpayers or who have not paid the adequate taxes. The DOF through the post-entry audit function will then serve as the quality control to assess if accredited importers really did comply with customs law. With this, the BOC can focus their policy agenda on improving systems and operations at the border and ensuring that risk management is pursued on imports moving forward,” Purisima said.
Last week at the general membership meeting of the Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association, BOC Deputy Commissioner for Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group Atty. Agaton Teodoro Uvero said BOC’s new accreditation requirements will include a list of importables.
The list is “something that we will put in our database and… link with e2m (electronic-to-mobile system) directly or through the VASPs (value-added service providers) … When you fill out your entry form, you’ll be prodded to select from your list of importables… so you cannot misdeclare”, Uvero said.
He said the new system will eliminate most of the “dummy companies or players” previously accredited by the BOC as well as weed out 50% of BOC-accredited importers. – DOF press statement with reports from Roumina M. Pablo
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