THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) had collected P1.575 trillion last year, down by three percent from its P1.62-trillion collection target in 2016, an official said Thursday.

BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay told reporters that the government's main tax agency was able to meet 97 percent of its collection target in 2016.

Dulay said that tax collection last year was about 9.5 percent higher than the collection in 2015.

Dulay said P924 billion of P1.575 trillion tax revenues collected came from income tax while the rest came from other taxes like excise and corporate taxes.

The BIR is targeting to collect tax revenues of P1.829 trillion in 2017.

"To achieve the collection, we have to grow by 16 percent from our last year's collection performance," Dulay said.

Asked what needs to be improved within the BIR to fulfill its 2017 collection target, Dulay said the agency has to go into "massive recruitment mode."

Dulay said the BIR only has less than 9,000 personnel to date, or 50 percent short of the 21,000 needed hired personnel.

"To be able to collect P1.839 trillion, we need people, we need personnel. So part of our program for 2017 is to go into a massive recruitment mode," he said. "We need examiners, CPAs, lawyers to do the work and collection effort of the agency.”

Dulay appealed to taxpayers to cooperate and help the agency in achieving its P1.829-trillion collection target for this year. (SunStar Philippines)