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Philippine National Tax Research Centre Expands Online Portal Capabilities

The National Tax Research Centre (NTRC) is further developing the functionalities of its existing online incentives application portal for investors to allow electronic submissions in the future of reports, enabling the government to better review and analyse the economic impact of investment incentives. In a report to the Finance Secretary, Carlos Dominguez III, the NTRC said the portal, the Fiscal Incentives Registration and Monitoring System (FIRMS), is currently being used by potential investors to submit their applications for incentives in any of the investment promotion agencies (IPAs). Under Republic Act (RA) No. 11534 or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law, the NTRC serves as the secretariat of the reconstituted Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) and is tasked to craft the application forms of business enterprises who wish to avail of tax incentives.

Dominguez chairs the reconstituted FIRB, with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez as co-chairman. As per a press release, Dominguez ordered all agencies attached to the Department of Finance (DOF) to implement their respective digital transformation programmes long before the pandemic. The NTRC launched the FIRMS on 14 June 2021 to comply with the provisions of the CREATE Law. On top of being an application portal, the FIRMS will be used by the IPAs and the FIRB to review, approve or reject, and monitor activities and projects.

The NTRC said that in the future, FIRMS will be able to generate the electronic Certificate of Registration (COR) and Certificate of Entitlement to Tax Incentives (CETI) of approved investments. The NTRC is encouraging existing businesses already receiving tax incentives from the government to also create their accounts in FIRMS. It will soon allow business enterprises to electronically submit their reports on the financial incentives they have received, in compliance with the provisions of CREATE, the NTRC said.

These electronic submissions will enable the government to better monitor, review, and analyse the economic impact of tax incentives. Under CREATE, the FIRB shall conduct an impact evaluation, such as a cost-benefit analysis, on investment incentives to determine the impact of such incentives on the Philippine economy. The CREATE law provided for a three-tiered framework in the grant of incentives to qualified industries under the government’s Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP), which aims to attract high-value, labour-intensive investments that will create more jobs and further sharpen the Philippines’ competitiveness in the global market.

Likewise, under the law, the Board of Investments (BOI) in coordination with the FIRB, the IPAs, and other stakeholders shall formulate the SIPP which will be submitted to the President for approval. Meanwhile, the 2020 Investment Priorities Plan of the Board of Investments (BOI) serves as the transitional SIPP, until such time that the initial SIPP is issued. As proposed by the BOI and approved by the FIRB, activities under the 2020 IPP may be eligible for incentives under the Tier I classification, without prejudice to upgrade to Tiers II or III if qualified under the new SIPP.

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