House body OKs tax racketeering bill  

THE HOUSE of Representatives ways and means committee has approved a bill seeking to penalize the use of so-called ghost receipts or padding of tax deductions using fake official receipts and invoices as a form of tax racketeering. 

“When persons or corporations deliberately choose to employ illegal means and misrepresent expenses and records in order to avoid paying taxes, the government loses billions of revenues that could have funded much-needed public services for Filipinos,” Albay Rep. and committee chairman Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda said at a hearing on Tuesday. 

The measure will amend Section 157 of the National Internal Revenue Code by defining tax racketeering. 

Under the bill, tax racketeering, which will be a bailable offense, will only cover those who try to evade at least P10 million in taxes. Violators will be jailed for 17 to 20 years. 

Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Romeo D. Lumagui, Jr. vowed to go after people using ghost receipts to escape taxes through its Run After Fake Transactions program. 

“What started out as a small-time operation several years ago has evolved into a wide-scale economic sabotage,” he told congressmen. The government loses hundreds of billions of pesos each year to these criminal syndicates and their customers, he added.Beatriz Marie D. Cruz