I loved our country and once said I’d never leave it, even though it was corrupt and all. I mean, things are just the way they are, right? Right. So, if the-way-things-are directly means extremely heavy taxes, stooping down your own morality, and cheering by as the local politician runs for office again and again, can your 25-year old self still believe that the Philippines is a place for you to live your dreams and start your family? Double nope.
I had my hammering experience recently, as I renewed by business permit in the Quezon City hall. Basically, QC assumes that anyone entering into a “wholesale” business is immediately a large-scale business with gross receipts of at least 150,000 pesos a year and thus can foot at least 20,000 pesos in annual fees and third-party quality testing (yes, the one for your poop). And lemme tell you, it was hard enough having to steer into the driveway of the Quezon City hall. As I set my foot down, I felt like vomiting. Man, all of this, uulitin na naman.
My first stop was to get business assessed, which was easy enough because I didn’t make any sale since starting the business mid-2015. So my sales to be declared was zero pesos.
“Ay sir, hindi po pwede ang zero income. Hindi po tatanggapin ng computer.” Ha?
I knew that the gross receipts was the basis for the City Tax, so I asked the Offcer of the Day what I could do to correct it. After all, all my BIR records will show zero-sales.
“Voluntary gross sales na lang po. 150,000 pesos.”
Shortly after that, my jaw dropped, because the equivalent City Tax for it was 3,993.00 pesos. Seriously, I felt like my civil rights were grossly violated. Why in the world can’t I declare zero sales? Well, of course if businesses could declare zero sales, then they might avoid getting taxed. But isn’t it already the BIR’s job to audit and sniff out tax evasion, and it’s already stressful (and unfair) enough. Point is, City Tax is based on gross receipts, which in my case was zero. The 3,993.00 pesos I paid for City Tax, was outrageous, and extremely unfair.
“Maliit na nga po ang 150,000 eh,” the Officer of the Day added, “normally nasa 1 million yan.”
Seriously? An annual gross sale of 1,000,000 means 83,333.33 of sales a month. How does a young businessman get into this minority percentile of income brackets at age 25? It’s ridiculous! Let’s take an example. If another fresh-grad entrepeneur wishes to market specialty sausages from his heirloom animal husbandry business in the province, whilst using his subdivision residence as a business address, does he expect to gross a frigging MILLION in the next year? No! What the hell. And besides, the sole basis is the GROSS RECEIPTS, not anything else. If QC wants to make sure that business don’t avoid taxes, then they should put controls and incentives where they ought to be, not cordoning you off there and then.
And it’s not just the City Taxes. It’s a lot of other things. The 3,993.00 was part of a 6,575.00 peso Business Tax Bill. Now, if that was all that I had to pay for, I’d be ok. But no. Read on, fellow man.
Separate from the Business Processing and Licensing Office of the Quezon City hall are the Sanitary and Fire departments. From Gross receipts, let’s talk more about gross things. Literally, gross. Here are their requirements so you can have your business:
- Monthly water testing (accredited centers only) – 700 pesos x 12 months
- Stool and sputum exam (accredited centers only) – 120 pesos for each employee (or 50 pesos but you have to look for your own bathroom)
- Pest control certificate – 2,500 pesos
- Fire extinguisher of choice – 2,000 pesos (against the law)
So how much does this all add-up to? 19,595.00 pesos. “Holy crap,” I muttered to myself as I watched a bunch of other people put their cup of poo into a pink tray in the clinic.
So, if BIR is already taxing me, and QC needs to tax me as well, then fuck it right? I can’t believe the meager businesses along Maginhawa gets taxed this much — or do they? That’s the problem: it’s so unclear if you should be in the honest-abe club, or the Mr Lagay club, which exists to this very day. This is a miserable, deplorable state of commerce we’re in. It’s like being in Nigeria or Zimbabwe.
I wanted to quit. I wanted to close the business. Give-up. Call the Canadian embassy and beg for a visa. Please. Japan, Germany, Australia, Singapore — anywhere but this godforsaken country.
In the distance, across Kalayaan avenue, there’s a poster of Herbert Bautista, in his own geeky apperance, perhaps soliciting the effect of Ninoy Aquino with his glasses and all. I actually didn’t know he used to be a movie actor. Did you know he was a movie actor? Oh, God, the great Quezon City, with its swaths of open land, a clean sky-line, and our sole La Mesa Dam, has a movie actor for a mayor.
And the posters of councilors in my area? The barangay chairman? They are all goons! All the fees I pay for — the 500-peso barangay clearance, the “accredited” medical clinics and laboratories, the clandestine fire-extinguisher refilling stations — they all go to the pockets of these demonized people. Filipinos, stealing from Filipinos.
And so, I’m sorry Ateneo, I’m not going down THIS hill. I’m sorry UP Diliman, sinubukan kong maging tunay, palaban, pero wala naman tayong bayan eh. Our government centers and agencies have become day-care centers for inutile children.
I think about all the kids enrolling in big private schools, all the hardworking medicine and law students climbing the scaffolds of their industry, and the various courses offered by various universities and colleges. If you think you have valuable dreams and motivation to offer to society, I don’t think you have much elbow room in our triangulated, capitalist society. I think you should migrate. Now.