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Online tax filing, QC pet ordinance are busts

/ 12:25 AM April 17, 2015

The electronic tax filing system of the Bureau of Internal Revenue that was designed to make work easier for BIR employees was a bust. It may eventually make the work of the BIR easier, but it was hell for taxpayers. Huge crowds of taxpayers filled all the BIR district offices in an effort to beat the deadline for filing tax returns last April 15.

BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, who had toured the district offices in Metro Manila, postponed the deadline for filing tax returns online to June. But taxpayers still had to file paper returns manually by April 15, then they have until June to file again electronically .

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You have to credit Filipino taxpayers for their patience. In spite of the hell that they have to go through, they still tried to file their tax returns on time. Most of them stood in line the whole day, but still many of them were unable to complete the process. Those who arrived a few minutes after 5 p.m. were locked out, obviously so they won’t add to the bedlam inside. You can imagine the huge number of taxpayers who were stymied by the crowds and the difficulties.

In order to collect more taxes and encourage the people to share their hard-earned income with the government, the BIR should make tax filing easier. But it has done the opposite. It has made tax filing infinitely more difficult.

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The computers crashed because of the overload. Even BIR employees could not make the machines work. I concede that online filing will eventually make it easier to file tax returns. Instead of going to BIR offices, taxpayers can do it at home at any time. But the BIR neither taught them how to do it nor gave them enough time to learn. True, online filing has been in the works for years, but it was only last March, a month before the deadline, that the BIR announced that online filing would henceforth be compulsory and that taxpayers could no longer file paper returns manually.

There were no instructions disseminated in the media when the BIR should have done this repeatedly. Thus, some quarters were led to suspect that the new system was a moneymaking gimmick as late filers have to pay a penalty of P1,000 per return plus a 25-percent surcharge on the tax. They said that since Henares was appointed to the BIR, it had always been short of its collection goal. (But that is probably because the Department of Finance always sets too high a collection target for the BIR.)

* * *

The Quezon City ordinance limiting pet ownership to four per household, among other provisions, was also a total bust.

Animal welfare groups and animal lovers and owners descended on City Hall last Wednesday to protest the ordinance.

The protesters lambasted the Quezon City Council for passing the ordinance and Mayor Herbert Bautista for signing it. For admittedly, the councilors and the mayor did not study the ordinance and its repercussions well enough beforehand. In the first place, the council did not consult animal welfare groups and owners as required by law.

Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, who invited the protesters to her office to talk to them, apologized for the oversight, and promised that they would be consulted the next time “there are similar issues discussed on the floor.”

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The vice mayor and city council chair said the ordinance has effectively been “repealed” by the new Veterinary Code. Still, animal lovers are wary because the implementing rules and regulations of the Veterinary Code are still being written, and the four-pet limit could be somehow “smuggled” in.

The ordinance was supposedly intended to prevent stray dogs and cats from biting people and spreading rabies. It’s a good intention, but the means of achieving it was wrong. Limiting dog and cat ownership to four per household will actually increase the number of strays.

Those who have many dogs and cats as pets are actually doing the Quezon City government a favor by rescuing, rehabilitating and adopting strays. Groups like the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, Compassion and Responsibility for Animals and Philippine Animal Rescue Team, to name a few, rescue abandoned and stray animals and then put them up for adoption by responsible families.

That is why some families have many dogs and cats. And they are well cared for, fed nutritious food, are taken to the vet regularly, have antirabies vaccinations, and are spayed and neutered. Because the adopting families are responsible pet owners. They take care of the rescued dogs and cats at great expense and sacrifice, but they do it because they truly love animals.

If you limit pet ownership to four, then these families will be forced to give up the excess. So you increase the number of strays instead of reducing them. And what will City Hall do with the excess pets—keep them in cramped cages for a few days and then kill them? That is prohibited by the Animal Welfare Act which was cited in the ordinance as an excuse for its enactment.

Provide free spaying and neutering and free antirabies vaccination to eliminate strays and stamp out rabies. THAT IS THE LONG-TERM SOLUTION.

In fact, the animal welfare groups are doing what the government should be doing. So get their advice and help.

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TAGS: animals, Bureau of Internal Revenue, electronic tax filing system, kim henares, Pets, Quezon City
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