TAX collected by the Large Taxpayers District Office (LTDO)-Cebu in the first two months of 2010 is more than 20 percent higher than that of the same period last year.

Cesar Escalada, chief of LTDO-Cebu, said they collected P620 million for January and P526 million for February. The January collection is 22.31 percent higher than what was collected in January 2009. The February collection is 26.66 percent higher than last year’s.

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“LTDO-Cebu has consistently posted a growth of more than 20 percent in the first two months of 2010 and I hope that the 20 percent growth will be consistent for the rest of the year,” said Escalada during the 8th anniversary of LTDO-Cebu and the tax campaign kickoff yesterday.

BIR Commissioner Joel Tan-Torres said their agency has put in place a 10-point strategic map of programs to help the agency meet its target tax collection of P830 billion for 2010.

Torres, who became BIR’s commissioner last December, said they will pursue a high-visibility public awareness campaign on the enforcement and service of BIR programs.

BIR will also have an integrated approach in administering large taxpayers. It will also re-invigorate its Run After Tax Evaders Program.

Torres said BIR will also have a more vigorous third party matching campaign, expand linkage with big institutions and create effective partnership with tax payers and tax practitioners.

In 2009, BIR fell P53 billion short of its revised tax collection target of P798 billion.

“We are in a good position to meet this target…This will define what should be done to reverse the short collection trend,” he said.

BIR 13 Regional Director Jose Tan, meanwhile, said “Cebuanos are very cooperative and honest. They pay their right amount of tax and on time.” BIR 13 has jurisdiction over Cebu.

With the upcoming elections, Torres said politicians are required to remit five percent of their campaign expenditures as withholding tax to BIR.

Torres and Tan said they hope that people continue to support the government by paying their taxes correctly.

BIR has set April 15 as deadline for tax filing.

Yesterday, the agency awarded large taxpayers in the city. Among the awardees are First Consolidated Bank, Lexmark, and Michel Lhuillier Financial Services Pawnshops Inc.