April 14, 2007

Pay your taxes...earn your right to complain!

IT'S that time of the year folks! Tax time!

I stayed up late until 3 am today just trying to figure out my income tax return. For years, it was simple to fill out my ITR as I only worked for one publication at a time. Now that I have multiple sources of income as a journalist, I was told that the form I should fill up this time around is for businesses and self-employed individuals.

So I went around the metropolis on Thursday getting my withholding tax certificates from the publications I worked for so I'd know how much taxes have already been turned over to the government in my name. It was exhausting just to go from Quezon City to Makati then back again. Then I went to SM North yesterday to get the ITR form which I'm supposed to fill out.

When I got home and finally sat down to do my taxes, I was confused as hell. First of all, I didn't know what spaces I should fill out or leave in blank. Should I fill up the gross compensation income or the business compensation boxes? What should I put in my sales receipts? Could I deduct my transportation and telecommunication expenses from my gross income? This is why rich people employ accountants and tax consultants!

(Dang those confusing tax forms! The government should simplify them.)

Well it pays to have friends. Fortunately, I have a friend who is a tax lawyer who allowed himself to be harrassed by myself late into the night while I texted question after question to him. He told me that I should now consider myself a "business" as I received fees in exchange for professional services. I had no one employer. I didn't have to fill out the blanks for those with gross compensation income because I wasn't "employed" by any one company. And as a "business", I could claim either a 10-percent standard deduction for expenses or submit an itemized list of expenses. Not having the latter, and not wanting to hassle myself trying to come up with more forms and receipts, I chose the standard 10-percent deduction of expenses.

This morning, I texted Ms. Aida Simborio, assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, to confirm what my tax lawyer friend said. My hats off to Ms. Aida as she too had been patiently answering my text messages since yesterday about what ITR form I should get or how I should compute for certain items asked in the form. (My tax lawyer friend told me if I could accomplish my ITR by myself, I could now be considered one of them, a professional tax consultant hehe! Hmmm...now that he mentions it, I could probably charge for doing other people's taxes! An a-ha moment!)

After finally computing and filling out my form, I headed to the Land Bank office nearest my residence to file my ITR and pay my tax. I had to tear up my previously filled up check as LBP/BIR has a specific "Pay to the order of" detail that must be included. It wasn't as simple as "Pay to the order of" BIR. It was more like "Pay to the order of Land Bank of the Phils. such and such branch in payment of BIR such and such in favor of my name and TIN no.!" Whew! But thankfully, there were no long queues at the bank, which was the only one open in my area among those accredited banks who were supposed to receive tax payments today. So I was done quite quickly.

I went home proud that I had been able to wrestle my ITR form and compute my tax payment properly. I have done my civic duty and paid my taxes correctly. Now I can bitch all I want about the government and our inept corrupt officials!


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