Editorial: Next move: dialogue

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Friday, March 14, 2014


THERE are many ways the organization of doctors in Cebu and in the country could have dealt with the shame campaign of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), including first reaching out to BIR chief Kim Henares and seeking details of the bureau’s claim.

They chose the combative stance, which was to wage a word war with the BIR. But that is still within their rights, although they risked extending the verbal exchange especially in the media. Now, the BIR is detailing what it earlier claimed in its initial paid advertisements.

And the figures the BIR presented are not flattering to the doctors, although the local and national organizations can still challenge their veracity and the correctness of the interpretation.

Consider the claim that 40.7 percent of Cebu doctors who are in the BIR list have no record of having paid their income tax. That’s a rather big number of tax evaders, although there might be a less sinister reason why these doctors in Cebu do not have taxpayers’ identification numbers.

There may also be less sinister reasons why an unnamed doctor only paid P24.50 in taxes. But again the local and national doctors’ organizations could have challenged the figure early on had they talked first with the BIR and asked it to provide them with the details of its claims.

It’s true that the message in the BIR paid ad is a form of generalization, which is unfair. Not all doctors refused to pay taxes, and BIR’s figures proved it: the highest taxpaying doctor in Cebu paid over P1 million in taxes.

But it’s also true that some doctors either paid taxes but weren’t honest with the figures or evaded payment of taxes altogether. That is also unfair to the doctors who are honest taxpayers. That’s why the organizations of doctors should help coax the dishonest ones to pay up.

Henares said that BIR resorted to the shame campaign after it used up the less controversial means of prodding doctors and other professionals to pay up. Following the verbal exchange, perhaps BIR and the doctors’ group can follow another route, which is through dialogue.

By the way, how is the BIR improving its capability to ferret out not only tax evaders but also corrupt bureau employees?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 15, 2014.

Opinion

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