Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Raps readied vs. owner of P544-M fake tax stamps, cigarettes

AT LEAST  PHP544 million worth of fake stamps and cigarettes were seized by the team of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) during a raid here on Tuesday afternoon.

Led by BIR-Region 12 director Antonio Jonathan Jaminola, tax personnel swooped on a storage facility in Barangay Tangub after receiving information on the manufacturing of fake cigarettes in the area and discovered boxes of fake BIR documentary stamps, packaging materials, and raw materials used in cigarette production.

As of Wednesday, the conduct of the inventory is being finalized as charges are being readied against the owner of the establishment.

“This is how big the amount is supposed to be generated by the government through these tax stamps,” Jaminola said, adding that the amount could increase once they complete the inventory.

The BIR team entered the facility together with personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation, troops of the Philippine Army, and officials of Barangay Tangub. However, they did not find anyone inside.

During the search, they found 29 boxes of fake tax stamps.

Each box contains an average of 500,000 pieces of fake documentary stamps worth PHP37.50 per piece or a total of PHP18.75 million per box.

The initial cost of confiscated fake tax stamps was pegged at about PHP544 million.

These were verified to be fake as all bear the same serial number.

The Philippine government requires all manufactured cigarettes to have a tax stamp outside the case.

Jaminola said they can already conclude that the owner of the facility, whom they have yet to identify, is selling fake cigarettes based on the “finished products” confiscated from a truck.

The use of fake tax stamps is a violation of the National Internal Revenue Code, specifically Section 265, or the Offenses Relating to Stamps.

Any person who is making, importing, selling, using, or possessing without express authority from the commissioner, any die for printing or making stamps, labels, tags, or playing cards, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of PHP5 million to PHP10 million and imprisonment of five to eight years.

The law also prohibits reusing previously affixed stamps, erasing the cancellation marks of any stamp previously used, altering the written figures or letters or cancellation marks on internal revenue stamps, possessing false, counterfeit, restored or altered stamps, labels, or tags, or causing the commission of any such offense by another.

Jaminola said the owner may also face tax evasion charges because of the presence of “unregistered goods” and for other violations under the tax revenue code.

He added that the two delivery trucks containing raw and packaging materials for cigarette manufacturing would be confiscated as well.

These fake cigarette products are being distributed to markets in Western Visayas based on the information they received about two months ago, Jaminola said. (By Erwin Nicavera)

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