BIR raids stores in Cebu for selling illicit cigarettes

BIR raids stores in Cebu for selling illicit cigarettes

AT LEAST four retail stores operating in a public market in Consolacion town, northern Cebu were raided by personnel of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Region 13 office on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, after they were found selling illicit tobacco products.

The raid was part of a nationwide simultaneous operation conducted by the BIR against perpetrators of the illicit cigarette trade.

Aside from Consolacion, personnel of BIR’s Region 13 office also conducted similar operations in Liloan town and Danao City, also in northern Cebu.

Douglas Rufino, BIR 13 director, told reporters on Wednesday that its nationwide operation aims to stop the proliferation of cigarettes and tobacco-based items that are sold in stores and markets with no appropriate taxes and obligations paid to the national government.

Rufino said that their team targeted stores across the public markets of the town of Consolacion and Liloan and Danao City, after it was confirmed in their surveillance that started in October 2022 that some retailers operating there were trading the said products.

He added that each item must have the tax stamps as evidence that taxes were paid by the manufacturer and importer prior to selling their products to the market.

The illicit items were sold at a lower price due to no tax being added to the product, which cost the government millions of losses in tax revenue, Rufino added.

“We shall come up with appropriate assessment and file appropriate charges if necessary, which is the imposition of the excisable item without appropriate tax being paid,” he said.

But Rufino didn’t discount the possibility that these sellers were not aware that they were selling illicit cigarettes and may have been duped by their suppliers.

Rufino said that the operation was the agency’s first-ever simultaneous nationwide trade enforcement under BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr.

The agency conducted operations against 378 stores across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.


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