Let’s get digital!

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) took another major step in its digital transformation journey with the launching of the Online Registration and Update System (ORUS) on Dec. 12. As of Jan. 16, taxpayers nationwide were using ORUS, a web-based system, as a convenient and alternative facility for end-to-end processing of registrations, among others.

With the goal of allowing taxpayers to register, update and conduct registration-related transactions online, the BIR issued several Revenue Memorandum Circulars (RMC) to inform taxpayers about ORUS. It was introduced last year with RMC 122-2022, in which the BIR also advised taxpayers who intend to register online and those who were then doing registration-related transactions manually, to update their registration records through the S1905 or the Registration Update Sheet specifically to reflect their contact details (and not their authorized representative’s or tax agent’s). The taxpayer’s official e-mail address will be used by the BIR to serve orders, notices, letters and other processes/communications to the taxpayer. In December, RMC 153-2022 informed taxpayers that ORUS will be available through the BIR website under the eServices icon or through URL https://orus.bir.gov.ph.

In January, RMC 3-2023 amended Section 2 of RMC 29-2019 on the manner of registering books of account whether manual, permanently bound loose-leaf, or computerized. All books of account are now to be registered online through ORUS, which generates a Quick Response (QR) Code that can be validated online. This replaces the manual stamping of books of account by BIR officers.

Newly registered taxpayers must use manual books of account which must be registered before the deadline for the filing of the first quarterly income tax return (ITR) or the annual ITR, whichever comes earlier. For existing taxpayers, the manual books must be registered before use. For all taxpayers, the manual books must be registered as often as before full consumption of the pages of the previously registered books, or annually if the taxpayer opts to use new sets of manual books every year.

Unless extended by the BIR upon the taxpayer’s request, permanently bound loose-leaf books and computerized books must be registered annually by existing taxpayers within 15 and 30 days, respectively, after the end of each taxable year. In the case of closure of business operations, the 15/30-day deadline will counted from the closure date, if this is earlier than the end of the taxable year.

For both manual and permanently bound loose-leaf books, the QR Stamp generated by ORUS must be pasted on the first page of the books. For computerized books, the QR Stamp must be attached to the transmittal letter showing the detailed content of the flash drive where the books are stored or saved.

The QR Stamp should contains the following taxpayer information: (1) TIN; (2) registered name and address; (3) type of books of account; (4) books registered; (5) Permit No. for loose-leaf books or Acknowledgment Certificate Control No. (ACCN) for computerized books and dates of issuance; (6) quantity; (7) volume no.; (8) dates registered and approved; and (9) QR Code which when scanned by any smartphone will redirect to the BIR ORUS website, to determine the authenticity of the printed QR Stamp.

Given the many updates, it would be helpful for the BIR ORUS website to already reflect the consolidated and updated requirements for online registration of books of account. As of this writing, it is not yet updated. This may cause confusion for users of the BIR ORUS facility. Ideally, the BIR ORUS website should be made a hub not only for the online processing of registration of books of account but also an effective center for the latest rules so that taxpayers who must comply are well informed.

ORUS is a commendable achievement for the BIR in offering convenience to taxpayers who contribute to the coffers of the government. Since it is web-based, registering books of account has become a paperless BIR transaction. There is no need for taxpayers to fill up forms, leave the office, and travel to and queue at BIR offices. This translates to savings and prevention of unwanted anxiety in completing mandatory registrations while performing face-to-face transactions with the BIR.

Digital is the way to go for a more efficient and cost-effective way of transacting with the government. The ORUS is a significant step in the BIR’s digital transformation, a welcome development for existing taxpayers and an attractive mechanism for those who would want to set up business in the Philippines, especially for foreigners who often compare us with the other Southeast Asian countries in terms of ease of doing business, particularly when transacting with the government.

As announced by the BIR in RMCs 153-2022 and 12-2023, as of Jan. 23, taxpayers with ORUS accounts may already process certain transactions online such as registration information updates, secondary registrations (registration of Permit to Use Loose-leaf/Computerized Accounting System) and even de-registration procedures (submission of application for closure/de-registration of business/TIN cancellation).

Taxpayers are looking forward to more online processing facilities as taxpayers also want to go digital.

The views or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Isla Lipana & Co.


Elizabeth K. Adaoag-Belarmino is a manager at the Tax Services department of Isla Lipana & Co., the Philippine member firm of the PwC network.

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