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Cigarette tax stamps decrease 59% under lockdown

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The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) observed a high double-digit drop in the issuance of tax stamps for cigarettes from March to June this year because of the lockdown measures.

The Department of Finance (DOF) said the BIR has released a total of 537.13 million cigarette tax stamps worth P18.88 billion during four months of community quarantine imposed by the government.

This was 59% lower than the 1.32 billion tax stamps valued at P59.46 billion it issued in the same period last year.

From March 1 to 15 this year, before the government's imposition of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to arrest the spread of COVID-19, the BIR released 50.85 million cigarette tax stamps for domestic use worth P1.78 billion, according to the DOF.

This was 176.03 million or 77.5% lower than the 226.88 million tax stamps worth P10.2 billion it released in the same period in 2019.

The number of tax stamps released by the taxman then increased to 165.21 million worth P5.78 billion from March 16 to 31, which was the period when the Luzon-wide ECQ was first imposed.

The volume declined sharply to 47.89 million tax stamps worth P1.68 billion in April, when the ECQ was extended, the DOF said.

“The BIR reported a further decrease in May, with only 8.57 million cigarette tax stamps worth P299.89 million released during that month, as compared to the 385.04 million (worth P17.33 billion) issued in May 2019,” it said.

“This represents a 98% drop or 376.47 million tax stamps worth P17.03 billion,” it added.

When Metro Manila and several other areas in the country shifted to the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) in June, the DOF said the BIR saw a drastic improvement with 264.61 million tax stamps worth P9.26 billion released.

Compared to the June 2019 volume, the DOF said the June 2020 volume is 24.88 million or 8.6% lower than 289.5 million year-on-year. 

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