Sunday, November 27, 2011
It's the season of Bazaars (a.k.a. Tiangges) in the Philippines. It's the week before December, and well, yes, in this country these make-shift bazaars ply their trade in what I would call a large garage sale - from food to fake designer items.
And while the Bureau of Internal Revenue (a.k.a...Internal Robbers ?), go merry making by tax mapping the doctors clinics in wild abandon, these Bazaars are having a heyday!
Out of curiosity, I called the BIR last Wednesday morning and posed as a writer for a leading newspaper. I told the woman I talked to that I am making a short story for the newspaper about Bazaars and taxes and she hurriedly called the guy in charge for this.
This was how our conversation went: (the comments in italics was what my mind wanted to say to the guy from the BIR)
ME: Good morning. I am ___ and I'm working for the ____. I'm making an article regarding Bazaars and Tiangges and I hope you don't mind if you answer a few inquiries I have for a few minutes so that I can piece my article together.
BIR: Sure. What's your question?
ME: Do these concessionaires in the Bazaars have to issue receipts when customers buy from them?
BIR: Of course. Everyone that does business has to issue a receipt! (Correct answer)
ME: I noticed that whenever I go to a Bazaar, they don't issue receipts. For example, I went to Mercato night food market at the Fort the other week and went to 3 different stall and none of them issued a receipt.
BIR: Humingi po kayo pag di kayo binigyan (Ask from the if they don't give you one) (WRONG ANSWER MORON!)
ME: Why do we have to ask for a receipt? Shouldn't it be SOP?
BIR: Well, yes, but if you have a complaint, you can call us and file a complaint. Some of these Bazaars, we don't know about them. (WRONG ANSWER AGAIN MORON! WHERE ARE THE IDIOTS AT 2AM? WHOM DO I CALL AT 2AM TO ASK FOR A RECEIPT FOR 6 PIECES OF MACARONS?!?!)
ME: But these Bazaars announce way ahead that they have an activity like this. It's even featured on television and is therefore a public affair. Even the TV newscasters endorse them as a lively festivity that ushers in the holiday season. It is unlikely that the BIR does not know about these activities.
BIR: You see sir, I will give you an example. Quezon City alone is a very big city. There are not enough people in the BIR that will monitor all these events and will monitor all these activities so you have to inform us if someone is violating by not issuing receipts. (WRONG ANSWER AGAIN MORON! YOU CAN HAVE THE TAX MAPPERS IN THE HOSPITALS AND DOCTORS CLINICS GO TO THE BAZAARS AND TAX MAP THEM ALSO! SANAMAGAN!!! THEY HAVE ENOUGH PEOPLE TO TAX MAP THE HOSPITALS AND CLINICS BUT THEY DON'T HAVE THE TIME TO TAX MAP THESE BAZAARS? OMG!!! WHAT KIND OF EXCUSE IS THAT? PERHAPS THE BIR IS IN CAHOOTS WITH THESE ORGANIZERS OR SELLERS!)
ME: But these Bazaars only run for a few days. Don't you think that you should check them before they are allowed to operate? After all, they publicly announced weeks before that they have a Bazaar sale. For example, St. James the Great annual bazaar in Ayala Alabang has their signs posted all over Muntinlupa already for their upcoming 500+ or more concessionaires. Isn't it your obligation to talk to the organizers and make sure that they issue receipts when you buy in the bazaars?
BIR: Hindi na namin sakop yan po. (The city is not within our jurisdiction.) (WRONG ANSWER! YOU SHOULD SAY - ALRIGHT I WILL CONTACT THE DISTRICT HEAD FOR THE BIR IN MUNTINLUPA AND INFORM HIM.)
Kung gusto ninyo bigay ko sa inyo ang telepono nila at kayo na tumawag. (If you want, I can give you the telephone number of the Muntinlupa BIR and you can call them). (Naubusan na yata ng English ang taga-BIR.)
ME: Okay, give me the number.
BIR: It's...wait, I cannot read their number (then he calls someone and says that his eyes are failing him and dictate the number of the Muntinlupa office)...It's 5560176 or 8561223.
ME: Okay, thank you for your time.
BIR: You're welcome. (In fairness, the guy was polite, accommodating and well...had all the wrong answers.)
I tried calling the Muntinlupa office from 10AM to 5PM, to no avail. The lines were busy and my secretary gave up after calling gazillion times.
I have nothing against Bazaars. I just wanted to make a point with the taxation system in the Philippines. If you can get away with paying taxes, then so be it. And these Bazaars come and go once a year - but by law should be obligated to pay taxes. Someone told me that at least we get the goods, 12% less because they won't issue receipts. Fine! Whatever! I would give my patients 12% off my rates if they don't ask for receipts as well. Is that the answer to the problem or the question? NO. Wrong answer. Fair is fair. It's either the law applies to all, or to NONE AT ALL.
I headed off to the St. James the Great Bazaar last night. And out of curiosity, headed off to three stalls - one selling ham, one selling pili, and one selling orchids. True enough, I went home without any receipt from any of these stores. When I asked for a receipt with the one selling ham, the girl looked at me and said - wala kaming recibo (we don't issue receipts).