MANILA

BIR-USAid to announce 10 'Hack-A-Tax' app contest finalists

QUEZON CITY -- The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will formally announce on November 22 the 10 finalists for its nationwide app contest dubbed Hack-A-Tax, a hackathon to develop the best software that will make tax payments a lot easier and speedier.

The brightest Information Technology (IT) students and professional developers have until November 15 to submit the best software to digitize BIR’s taxpayers’ service that include tax registration, TIN application, tax filing and payments, among others.

Details and mechanics of the contest, which was launched on October 15, can be found at www.hackatax.ph.

From all submitted proposals, a panel of judges composed of IT and tax experts will review, choose and announce the top 10 finalists during the PH Startup Week in Manila on November 22.

Finalists from out of town will get an all expense paid trip to Manila, plus accommodation, while presenting their ideas and innovation, according to Developers Connect (DevCon) Philippines founder and president Winston Damarillo.

“The intention here is to make BIR accessible to the masses and make that access easy, friendly and fun either through a mobile app or web app or voice app,” Damarillo said. “People of all stages and all ages are welcome to participate.”

From November 23 to December this year, the 10 Hack-A-Tax finalists will proceed to the app development phase where they will have access to mentors such as BIR resource persons, tax experts, IT developers and industry leaders.

The BIR will then conduct a day-long boot camp on the third week of January 2020 where experts will mentor them a day before the actual app presentation to a panel of distinguished jurors.

Top 3 winners will be chosen. Apart from owning, operating, maintaining and monetizing the chosen app, the winners will also get P600,000 worth of cash prizes: P300,000 for first placer, P200,000 for second placer, and P100,000 for third placer.

Winners can also make money out of their apps by marketing these directly to taxpayers.

The mobile apps must be ready for service by February 2020 in time for the April 15, 2020 deadline for the annual individual income tax filing and payments.

On November 5, the BIR, represented by Deputy Commissioner Lanee David and Public Information Chief Maria Lourdes Narvaez, led the signing of the Pledge of Support for Hack-A-Tax with partners Asian Consulting Group (ACG) represented by its founding chairman Mon Abrea, DevCon Philippines' Winston Damarillo, CSR Philippines represented by its trustee and treasurer Salve Duplito, media.Xchange PR represented by its president Peachy Vibal-Guioguio, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) represented by Vice Catudio.

The success of the project will give taxpayers and business entities access to interact with the BIR online, according to organizers. Once in place, taxpayers will no longer have to visit the internal revenue office and fill out long and complex tax forms or over the counter at authorized agent banks, they said.

“We are calling all developers to actually help the BIR address the bureaucracy, end the corruption and make our system more efficient,” said Abrea. “If we don’t take this opportunity, it’s our loss. So we thank the leadership of the Department of Finance and the BIR for actually giving this a chance.”

“This is not just about the mobile app, this is about making sure we will have what we all wish for—an efficient, fair and simple tax system,” Abrea added. “This is a dream come true and I hope we will further realize that all taxpayers in the Philippines will really enjoy doing their civic obligation which is to be part of nation building by paying your taxes correctly.”


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