June 24, 2024

The head of the Bureau of Internal-Revenue in the Cordillera is hopeful that reforms will be introduced in the Election Code where prior to the filing of certificate of candidacy, politicians will be required to submit a clearance from the BIR first.

The plan of requiring political aspirants to submit a clearance from the BIR have been discussed in many top-level meetings of the Bureau but this was often overtaken by events, said BIR-CAR Director Douglas Rufino.

Rufino said he is hoping that in the next elections, Comelec will require candidates to submit a BIR clearance attesting that the aspirant does not have any pending tax obligations with the government. 

He said Comelec should also consider imposing environment fees from candidates, which will be used in post-election cleanup drives.

The next elections will be on October for barangay posts, and 2025 for local government posts.

Rufino said at present, only winning candidates will file their income contributions to the BIR as this is a requirement before they can assume post.

Losing candidates, on other hand, no longer comply with this requirement, Rufino said.

He reminded that regardless of the outcome of the elections, all candidates have to file their statement of contributions and expenditure (SOCE) not just to the Comelec, but also to the BIR.

The Omnibus Election Code requires candidates to file their SOCE in the Comelec and BIR 30 days after the election.

At the start of the campaign period last February, BIR Commissioner Cesar Dulay reiterated in a memorandum circular that candidates, political parties, and party-list groups have to declare all campaign contributions.

Campaign contributions are generally exempt from income tax but the BIR imposes an income tax for excess donations.

As there is no link of records between the Comelec and BIR, Rufino said the agency is preparing a database of all candidates containing remarks on their compliance or non-compliance with the Tax Code. He said information from the BIR can be used by the Comelec in evaluating compliance of candidates to the Election Code.

Candidates who fail to submit a SOCE can become a basis in the disqualification of a candidate according to the Election Code. – Rimaliza A. Opiña