MANILA, Philippines — BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. on Friday maintained the agency’s need for P10 million confidential funds, saying it would be used to go against “big tax evaders” and combat “illicit trades.”
“We need it because as you have seen in the past – when I was appointed — that we have a lot of operations against illicit trades, we had operations against big syndicate[s] involved in ghost receipts and we do a lot of surveillance,” said Lumagui, Friday evening during the Senate plenary debates on the 2024 budget of the agency.
“It is very helpful for us in order for us to really catch these big fish, so to speak. We have been raiding big tax evaders,” added Lumagui in response to Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III’s question on why the agency is still pushing for the allocation of secret funds.
In his interpellation, Pimentel pointed out that the BIR already has a Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) Program.
“There’s really no special fund allocated for the RATE Program,” Lumagui replied.
Pimentel later on urged Lumagui to review the fund request.
“Under your Revenue Administration Program, you already have P277.8M that you can use for tax fraud investigations and intelligence operations. It’s a big amount. Just take a look at it,” said Pimentel.
The lawmaker said BIR’s P10 million confidential fund request is “reasonable,” but he said the question remains: “Should you really be entitled to it?”