BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Cesar Dulay has reiterated the need for higher salaries among BIR employees, particularly accountants and lawyers, to attract competent talent in the bureau, which may translate to higher tax collection.
In his visit to Cebu last Friday, the tax chief emphasized that BIR is currently running at half its capacity.
“We need people. We need revenue collectors. We have fewer than 10,000 employees in the bureau, and yet the bureau, to run efficiently and effectively, needs 21,000,” said Dulay.
Presently, Dulay said BIR cannot raise the salary of its workers as it wishes due to Republic Act 6758 or the Salary Standardization Law (SSL), which aims to “bring the compensation of government personnel closer to their private counterparts.”
But for the commissioner, it is time for the BIR to be excluded from the SSL, in the same way the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Insurance Commission (IC) have been delisted, which allows the two agencies to offer better pay to its lawyers and accountants.
“To run efficiently, we need good lawyers. Our hiring rate for lawyers is at P35,000 to P40,000, unlike SEC, which hires lawyers at P55,000 to P60,000. Wala kaming laban. Hindi kaya ng BIR (We can’t win. We can’t pay that much). To attract good and competent professionals, and if we can get out of the salary standardization law, then we can give bigger and better rates to CPAs (certified public accountants) and lawyers,” said Dulay.
In Cebu, BIR 13 Director Alfredo Misajon said the revenue region is only running at “58 percent of its capacity” in terms of the number of workers.
While BIR’s appeal for exclusion to the SSL is still with Congress, Dulay said his office has already devolved to the regional directors the hiring of BIR revenue examiners and collectors to facilitate faster hiring. Previously, he said hiring had to go through the BIR main office, which makes it even harder for professionals to apply for a post.
The call for higher salaries for BIR employees is also seen as a way to deter corruption in the bureau.
In the same manner, Dulay promised local businesses that BIR will improve “ease of doing business” in their offices. He said his office welcomes any proposals from business organizations relating to revenue regulations affecting the private sector.
The tax chief, whose office is tasked to collect P1.829 trillion of taxes this year, called on to BIR officials and employees to be transparent in their transactions and to offer better service to taxpayers.