Vision, values, and purpose are crucial components of every organization’s strategic framework. Vision embodies the direction where the establishment wants to go. Core values keep it on track. Whereas purpose unifies and helps the people within the organization understand the why behind the direction, keeping them motivated to stay on the path.
Together, these shape the fundamental purpose of existence of every organization. These three must be clear, motivational, and inspirational to serve as a guiding force – be it in the private or government sector.
This is the third article in our series following the 2nd SGV Tax Symposium, which focused on how a sustainable and effective tax ecosystem can advance the sustainability agenda for both the public and private sectors. In this article, we will talk about how the SGV tax vision is taking shape, given added impetus by the pillars of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in its priority programs.
Four years ago, SGV’s Tax Service Line articulated its own tax vision to reinvigorate the way that it operates, one that is consistent with the firm’s ultimate purpose of “nurturing leaders and enabling business for a better Philippines.” This tax vision is simple and straightforward — to create a tax ecosystem where: 1) taxpayers are willing to comply; 2) we work closely with regulators to attain positive outcomes, 3) tax practitioners are armed with skills and integrity, and 4) the country becomes an investment haven where businesses flourish — all for a better Philippines.
Among the critical players in SGV’s envisioned tax ecosystem are the regulators, who we consider vital partners in the progress of the nation.
In February, the BIR, under the leadership of Commissioner Romeo Lumagui, Jr., unveiled its priority programs for 2023 during its yearly tax season kickoff. These programs focus on four pillars that form the foundation of the BIR under Lumagui’s leadership, namely, excellent taxpayer service; integrity in the revenue service; audit and enforcement; and digitalization.
These key focus areas were laid down in Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 38-2023 dated March 23 to emphasize the shift of the BIR from strict tax administration to the delivery of efficient, courteous, and timely services to encourage taxpayers to file tax returns and pay the correct taxes on time. BIR Assistant Commissioner Jethro M. Sabariaga, one of our keynote speakers, highlighted these pillars in his talk during the SGV Tax Symposium held on Oct. 25.
Zeroing in on both the strategies and the underlying purpose behind them, we see how there are positive alignments between SGV’s tax vision and the BIR’s priority programs.
EXCELLENT TAXPAYER SERVICE
By highlighting the importance of process improvement and exceptional client service, the BIR hopes to generate more revenue by combatting disinformation, reeducating taxpayers and stakeholders while standardizing its processes. Consistent with this commitment, the BIR recently launched programs to allow the online filing of requests such as Tax Identification Numbers and certain types of certificates, as well as reducing the documentary requirements in some identified BIR applications.
This is aligned with the first tenet of SGV’s tax vision of building a tax ecosystem where taxpayer compliance is voluntary and not enforced. If businesses are equipped with proper information and systems, and the value of timely and correct payment of taxes is clearly articulated to taxpayers, we believe that this can lead to a gradual transformation of taxpayer mindsets where tax becomes a dutiful obligation rather than an onerous burden.
TRANSPARENCY AND INTEGRITY
The BIR’s intensified campaign to underscore the value of transparency and integrity parallels SGV’s commitment to deal with the government, clients, and stakeholders with probity and accountability.
It is not enough that tax practitioners are equipped with the right technical tools — it is equally important to put a premium on consistently doing what is right.
AUDIT AND ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM
The BIR’s audit and enforcement program is aimed at leveling the playing field and allowing taxpayers to evaluate their processes, improve their compliance, and disprove any improper tax assessments. From this perspective, the BIR methodically seeks to shed its image as an adversary and transform into a collaborator for change, similar to SGV’s goal to be a catalyst in transforming the Philippine business landscape. In a sense, if the BIR continues to sustain this progressive approach, taxpayers may learn to adopt the mindset that they are key partners in the process of upholding the country’s tax ecosystem.
According to the BIR, it is striving for impartiality, transparency, and efficacy by implementing digitalization programs, elevating the tax administration in the Philippines to be at par with other tax agencies in the world.
As part of its strengthened digitalization program, the BIR recently launched eONETT (Electronic One Time Transaction), circularized through Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 56-2023 dated May 19. Under the eONETT system, taxpayers can file and report tax returns as well as pay the corresponding taxes due for these one-time transactions online, minimizing the need to set foot in a BIR office.
This BIR pillar resonates with one of the tenets of SGV’s tax vision, which sees the Philippines as an investment haven where businesses flourish, ultimately for the betterment of the Philippines. Digitalization fosters transparency and efficiency, which allows businesses to thrive only with the minimum required regulatory intervention necessary.
VISION, VALUES, AND PURPOSE DRIVE ORGANIZATIONS
The BIR’s transformation agenda and SGV’s tax vision prove that both the public and private sectors place a premium on the inspirational and aspirational. Vision, values, and purpose drive organizations to their full potential and allow their stakeholders to support them through their own journeys.
These are key to sustainable growth on either side of the fence, driving the necessary transformative changes to achieve a sustainable and effective tax ecosystem that works with both businesses and regulators to the benefit of all stakeholders, and collectively for the country.
This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co. or EY.
Fabian K. Delos Santos is the head of Tax of SGV & Co.