TAX collection in Cebu and Bohol for the first six months of 2015 reached P11.6 billion, the latest data from the Bureau of Internal Revenue Region 13 showed.

The amount is 7.6 percent higher from last year’s collection, but lower by 11.03 percent from the period’s goal set at P12.9 billion.

While the tax collecting body for the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay, and Tagbilaran in Bohol failed to reach the goal, BIR-13 Director Hermeno Palamine, in an interview yesterday, is optimistic that the region will attain the P25.3 billion target for 2015. If not, he said it will be close to the target.

“It’s early to say (if we did or did not reach the target). What is important is the sum total collection we can collect (from January to) December,” Palamine said.

For the rest of the year, the official benchmarked his optimism on the taxes that can be collected from the transactions mainly undertaken at the South Road Properties, Mactan Cebu International Airport, and the increasing real estate projects in Cebu.

Of this year’s first half collection, P7.7 billion came from taxes on net income, P2.6 billion from value added tax, P448 million from percentage tax, P2.4 million from excise tax, and P665 million from other taxes. The month of April registered the highest collection at P2.6 billion followed by May’s collection at P2.3 billion.

Although Palamine is positive about reaching this year’s target, the official disclosed that there are some factors that are seriously affecting the region’s performance.

For one, he said there were big establishments in Cebu that were delisted from the region’s taxpayer list and transferred to the Large Taxpayers Division (LTD).

For this year, nine companies were officially delisted, which in turn affects the region’s collection.

“If these delisted taxpayers remained with us, we would have met the goal,” Palamine said. The director pointed out that delisting is done yearly and more companies in Cebu will be transferred to LTD by the end of the year.

The lack of human resources in the BIR also has an impact to the region’s performance, Palamine expplained. As of today, the Revenue Region 13 has a plantilla of 700 personnel, but it currently has 428 staff. Of that number, only 300 are serving Revenue Region 13 since the remaining one hundred are scattered in other BIR offices like the LTD and Excise Division, among others.

The minimal number of BIR employees not only in the region but also in other offices, for Palamine, implies that there are less personnel who will perform BIR functions.

To augment its collection, Palamine said his office remains committed to run after tax evaders by actively monitoring suspected professionals that are dishonest in paying their tax obligations.

The BIR national office is also reportedly “struggling” to meet its P1.67 trillion target for the whole year, which is 25.4 percent more than the actual 2014 collection of P1.34 trillion. The BIR’s collection target for this year is equivalent to 12 percent of gross domestic product, Palamine said.