Lumagui gets tough on illicit cigarette traders: BIR files 69 criminal cases for tax evasion

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has filed a total of 69 criminal cases for tax evasion with the Department of Justice, as part of a swift crackdown on illicit cigarette traders.

ALSO READ: Illicit tobacco sales hinder BIR from hitting excise tax target

The cases, with an estimated exposure of P1.8 billion, were initiated following the BIR’s nationwide raid conducted in January 2023.

BIR Commissioner Romeo D. Lumagui Jr. issued a stern warning to all illicit traders, highlighting “the consequences they will face.

“After the first BIR nationwide raid of illicit cigarette stores and warehouses last January 2023, we are now filing 69 criminal cases against the possessors and owners for tax evasion. This is a warning against all illicit traders. The BIR will not only raid your stores and warehouses, we will also file criminal cases against you. This will not be the last,” Lumagui said.

The move marks an unprecedented step in the history of the BIR as the cases filed against illicit cigarette traders across the country highlight the gravity of the issue.

Lumagui assured the public that regular raids against illicit traders, accompanied by criminal cases, will remain a priority during his administration.

“The BIR protects the Philippine economy by leveling the playing field. Everybody has to pay taxes. Traders of cigarettes, vape, petroleum, and other goods subject to taxes have to register with the BIR and pay their taxes.

Failure to do so would force us to raid your stores and file criminal cases against you. We are in constant surveillance of your businesses. Not only will you have to pay your taxes with penalties and surcharges, but you will also lose your freedom,” Lumagui said.

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