Jul 12, 2013

A Salute to BIR RDO 045!

The BIR is probably one of the country's most maligned government agencies. Nobody loves the taxman.

But as quick as we are to complain, we should also be quick to give credit where credit is due.

In these past few days that I've been doing multiple transactions with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, I have been witness to the dedication and spirit of service of its people in RDO 045, so much so that I am compelled to write about them.

RDO 045 – I was amazed to see so much patience, kindness, and warmth in such a stress-filled place:
  • the chief of the Collections department, Mr. Robert Caliuag;
  • the security guards; 
  • the ladies in TSS windows 2, 3, and 4; 
  • the young men receiving ATP applications at Window 1; and
  • the people signing documents and encoding reports at the second floor, especially the gentleman right beside the stairs and the ladies routing the documents to be signed.
They all extended kind help to a lost and confused taxpayer (me). If you know their names, please let me know so that they can be mentioned properly here.

But of special mention are two people in particular: revenue collection officer Elmer Torcuator and Taxpayers Service Section Chief Jose S. Flores.

Elmer Torcuator: Tapat sa Bureau

"Tapat sa Bureau" is my husband's favorite way of describing a person whose dedication to his job makes him go above and beyond the call of duty. Last June 10, 2013, I saw this kind of dedication in Mr. Elmer Torcuator.

He was in charge of receiving payments. I was at the line to pay for three certifications. Many were in line because it was the deadline for filing taxes withheld at source.

Anyway, I joined the payments queue at 4 p.m. I noticed that the line moved very slowly, so I went to the front to investigate.

It turns out that the new machines issued to the RDOs for making ORs were incredibly slow! It took around 5 minutes to generate one transaction, and most people in the line had more than one transaction to do. (Paging BIR head office: Palitan niyo naman po ang mga machine na ito!)

The BIR personnel did not stop people from falling in line, right up to 5 p.m. Walang cut-off. Needless to say, Mr. Torcuator had to stay beyond 5 p.m. to finish the line.

In case you did not know, government employees do not receive overtime pay, and there is no time-offset benefit either.

I completed my transaction five minutes before 7 p.m. There were around ten more people behind me, so it's safe to say that Mr. Torcuator was at work until at least 8 p.m.

Three hours of overtime work without pay would be enough to make many people cranky – but Mr. Torcuator was cheerful the whole time, chatting us up and keeping us entertained. It was a pain to be in line from 4 to 7 p.m., but this revenue collections officer made it all bearable. Thank you, Mr. Torcuator.

Jose Flores: The Gracious Chief

I was sent by the frontdesk ladies to see Mr. Flores because, apparently, he was in charge of processing requests for certifications.

I needed a certification because, as a registered BMBE, I am exempted from income tax. Since income tax is the basis of withholding tax, my income tax exemption naturally exempts me from withholding tax from my clients as well.

But the person in charge of my payments at [a certain publishing company] did not seem to understand that. So although I already showed her my Certificate of Registration which proved I was exempt from income tax, she still required me to get a certificate stating I was also exempt from tax withheld at source.

Mr. Flores granted my request for a certificate, but the certification he gave me was the standard certification stating I was exempt from Income Tax. Apparently, nobody ever asks for a certificate of exemption from withholding tax at source (probably because that is normally taken for granted when one is certified to be exempt from income tax).

When I saw that the certification only mentioned my exemption from income tax, I called the publishing company's accounting office to ask the abovementioned lady if this certification was sufficient to make her stop withholding taxes from my payments.

She said no. She needs to see the words "exempted from tax withheld at source."

Because I had already wasted so much time on her requirement, I found the courage to return to Mr. Flores with my phone and ask him to please do the explaining to the lady.

Now, mind you, Mr. Flores is a very busy man. His table was completely covered with applications for Authority to Print official receips/sales invoices. (Imagine how many businesses there are in RDO 045, and all of us need to have our receipts/invoices renewed by Aug. 30, thanks to Commissioner Henares' new OR/SI ruling, which we all heard about only in May because it was so inadequately publicized!)

But he graciously took my phone, talked to the lady, and tried to give her a quick review in basic accounting principles. And then, having failed to get through to her, he agreed to revise my certificate!

As he personally typed out the new certificate, he sighed a little and mentioned, "Dapat may iba na tayong natatapos na gawain kung hindi dahil dito." But he smiled and nodded at me, as if to assure me that he knew it was not my fault.

Finally, the certificate was finished and printed. It needlessly took up a busy man's time, but he was gracious and kind about it all the way. For that, I am extremely grateful. Thank you, Mr. Jose Flores.

Thank you, BIR RDO 045!

The Nanay Notebook is written by Blessie Adlaon, a work-at-home and homeschooling mom of four. Check out our About page to know more about this blog's author and our policies on advertising, press releases, and reposting.

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