Because of TRAIN, Has the Commissioner of Internal Revenue Lost the Power to Inquire into Bank Deposit Accounts and Other Related Information Held by Financial Institutions, Accredit and Register Tax Agents, and Prescribe Additional Procedural or Documentary Requirements?

Section 4 of RA 10963 (TRAIN Law) reads:

Section 4. Section 6 of the NIRC, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:

Sec. 6. Power of the Commissioner to Make Assessments and Prescribe Additional Requirements for Tax Administration and Enforcement.—

“(A) Examination of Returns and Determination of Tax Due.— After a return has been filed as required under the provisions of this Code, the Commissioner or his duly authorized representative may authorize the examination of any taxpayer and the assessment of the correct amount of tax, notwithstanding any law requiring the prior authorization of any government agency or instrumentality: Providedhowever, That failure to file a return shall not prevent the Commissioner from authorizing the examination of any taxpayer.

“x x x

“x x x

“(B) x x x

“(C) x x x

“(D) x x x

“(E) Authority of the Commissioner to Prescribe Real Property Values.— The Commissioner is hereby -authorized to divide the Philippines into different zones or areas and shall, upon mandatory consultation with competent appraisers both from the private and public sectors, and with prior notice to affected taxpayers, determine the fair market value af real properties located in each zone or area, subject to automatic adjustment once every three (3) years through rules and regulations issued by the Secretary of Finance based on the current Philippine valuation standards: Provided, That no adjustment in zonal valuation shall be valid unless published in a newspaper of general circulation in the province, city or municipality concerned, or in the absence thereof, shall be posted in the provincial capitol, city or municipal hall and in two (2) other conspicuous public places therein: Providedfurther, That the basis of any valuation, including the records of consultations done, shall be public records open to the inquiry of any taxpayer. For purposes of computing any internal revenue tax, the value of the property shall be, whichever is the higher of:

“(1) the fair market value as determined by the Commissioner; or

“(2) the fair market value as shown in the schedule of values of the Provincial and City Assessors.”

There is no indication that there are other portions of Section 6 after item (E). Thus, does this mean that the following portions of Section 6 after item (E) have been deleted?

(F) (As amended by RA 10021) Authority of the Commissioner to Inquire into Bank Deposit Accounts and Other Related information held by Financial Institutions. – Notwithstanding any contrary provision of Republic Act No. 1405, Republic Act No. 6426, otherwise known as the Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines, and other general or special laws, the Commissioner is hereby authorized to inquire into the bank deposits and other related information held by financial institutions of:

(1) A decedent to determine his gross estate; and

(2) Any taxpayer who has filed an application for compromise of his tax liability under Section 204(A)(2) of this Code by reason of financial incapacity to pay his tax liability.

In case a taxpayer files an application to compromise the payment of his tax liabilities on his claim that his financial position demonstrates a clear inability to pay the tax assessed, his application shall not be considered unless and until he waives in writing his privilege under Republic Act No. 1405, Republic Act No. 6426, otherwise known as the Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines, or under other general or special laws, and such waiver shall constitute the authority of the Commissioner to inquire into the bank deposits of the taxpayer.

(3) A specific taxpayer or taxpayers subject of a request for the supply of tax information from a foreign tax authority pursuant to an international convention or agreement on tax matters to which the Philippines is a signatory or a party of: Provided, That the information obtained from the banks and other financial institutions may be used by the Bureau of Internal Revenue for tax assessment, verification, audit and enforcement purposes.

In case of a request from a foreign tax authority for tax information held by banks and financial institutions, the exchange of information shall be done in a secure manner to ensure confidentiality thereof under such rules and regulations as may be promulgated by the Secretary of Finance, upon recommendation of the Commissioner.

The Commissioner shall provide the tax information obtained from banks and financial institutions pursuant to a convention or agreement upon request of the foreign tax authority when such requesting foreign tax authority has provided the following information to demonstrate the foreseeable relevance of the information to the request:

(a) The identity of the person under examination or investigation;

(b) A statement of the information being sought, including its nature and the form in which the said foreign tax authority prefers to receive the information from the Commissioner;

(c) The tax purpose for which the information is being sought;

(d) Grounds for believing that the information requested is held in the Philippines or is in the possession or control of a person within the jurisdiction of the Philippines;

(e) To the extent known, the name and address of any person believed to be in possession of the requested information;

(f) A statement that the request is in conformity with the law and administrative practices of the said foreign tax authority, such that if the requested information was within the jurisdiction of the said foreign tax authority then it would be able to obtain the information under its laws or in the normal course of administrative practice and that it is in conformity with a convention or international agreement; and

(g) A statement that the requesting foreign tax authority has exhausted all means available in its own territory to obtain the information, except those that would give rise to disproportionate difficulties.

The Commissioner shall forward the information as promptly as possible to the requesting foreign tax authority. To ensure a prompt response, the Commissioner shall confirm receipt of a request in writing to the requesting tax authority and shall notify the latter of deficiencies in the request, if any, within sixty (60) days from receipt of the request.

If the Commissioner is unable to obtain and provide the information within ninety (90) days from receipt of the request, due to obstacles encountered in furnishing the information or when the bank or financial institution refuses to furnish the information, he shall immediately inform the requesting tax authority of the same, explaining the nature of the obstacles encountered or the reasons for refusal.

The term “foreign tax authority,” as used herein, shall refer to the tax authority or tax administration of the requesting State under the tax treaty or convention to which the Philippines is a signatory or a party of.

(G) Authority to Accredit and Register Tax Agents. – The Commissioner shall accredit and register, based on their professional competence, integrity and moral fitness, individuals and general professional partnerships and their representatives who prepare and file tax returns, statements, reports, protests, and other papers with or who appear before, the Bureau for taxpayers. Within one hundred twenty (120) days from January 1, 1998, the Commissioner shall create national and regional accreditation boards, the members of which shall serve for three (3) years, and shall designate from among the senior officials of the Bureau, one (1) chairman and two (2) members for each board, subject to such rules and regulations as the Secretary of Finance shall promulgate upon the recommendation of the Commissioner.

Individuals and general professional partnerships and their representatives who are denied accreditation by the Commissioner and/or the national and regional accreditation boards may appeal such denial to the Secretary of Finance, who shall rule on the appeal within sixty (60) days from receipt of such appeal. Failure of the Secretary of Finance to rule on the Appeal within the prescribed period shall be deemed as approval of the application for accreditation of the appellant.

(H) Authority of the Commissioner to Prescribe Additional Procedural or Documentary Requirements. – The Commissioner may prescribe the manner of compliance with any documentary or procedural requirement in connection with the submission or preparation of financial statements accompanying the tax returns.

Let’s show these laws some love so they get the attention of Congress

The Constitution gets much attention, despite the fact that any attempt to amend it means a danger to the system of checks and balances. Meanwhile, there are other laws which require amendments or revisions but are overlooked.

  1. Revised Penal Code (RPC) – In force since January 1, 1932, the primary criminal law in the Philippines penalizes such acts as duel, a relic of a bygone era, and death or physical injuries in a tumultuous affray, which is no longer necessary due to advances in forensics (now making it possible to identify who inflicted what). Also, a lot of special laws have been passed to penalize acts not covered by the RPC. Thus, one studying criminal law has to look at all these laws. Revising the RPC to include all acts punished by special laws (an effort called “codification”) would make it easier for anyone to find whether a certain act is punished by law.
  2. Negotiable Instruments Law – This is another American-era law, enacted on February 3, 1911. The procedures contained in the law as prerequisites to recovery (ex. presentment and dishonor) are no longer in step with advances in communication and transportation. Said advances have also rendered irrelevant the provisions on bills in set, where more than one copy of the same bill is issued and sent, in case the first copy is lost. Lastly, different modes of payment have emerged that are certainly deserving of regulation. Non-paper based GCash and Smart Padala come to mind.
  3. Public Service Act – This Commonwealth-era law still regulates land transportation in the Philippines, despite advances in technology brought about by web-based applications like Grab.
  4. Land Transportation and Traffic Code (Republic Act No. 4136) – The prohibiton against the operation of motorcycles as public transport services is contained in this law. Thus, the legal issue involving Angkas.
  5. Code of Commerce – Much of this law, from the Spanish era, has been replaced. However, several provisions still remain valid to this day. The provisions on water transportation and letters of credit come to mind, again despite advances in technology.

Will update this law when I encounter more vintage laws.