Back in 2014 I did the paperwork to import into the U.S. our first container of product from my shop in the Philippines. U.S. Customs, easy as pie, find a broker, pay them a few hundred in fees and deposits, fill out a two page form that took a half hour at most. Done…..
Export permits from the Philippines? At least fifty times more work and expense but three months got it done. Time for applying for the import permit so we could bring in supplies, machines, and materials to put more people to work. How hard can it be?
Well…about a year later I still can’t tell you because we still aren’t done.
We are at the point of getting the BIR ICC, basically a process showing you are legit, are paying taxes, and are responsible. Probably fifty requirements in all, reports, copies of leases, tax returns, you name it and they ask for it. The worst is getting the BIR to sign off, eight departments, saying that you don’t owe any money or have any missing reports. Used to be the BIR’s responsibility to get those eight signatures but they were refusing to process the paperwork so the legislature dumped the responsibility on the applicant a year or so back as the regional managers couldn’t get their own department heads to do the paperwork. Read …. opportunity for bribes.
Got everything done on the BIR ICC after about ten months, some things had to be redone as their expiration date was reached before the last requirement was completed. Regional office signs off on everything, all money paid, all reports showing as received, all requirements in order, dozens of papers are stamped, fees paid, documentary stamps purchased and glued on with elmers glue and off to Manila to deliver the two inch thick stack of documents, in triplicate of course.
And we hit a brick wall. Income tax return missing for 2015 along with the so called Alpha List (list of employees you paid taxes on), not showing up in the national BIR computer system. WTF… we had copies with us, all duly filed in mid January months before the April 15th deadline by our CPA.
Back to the provincial office where everything appears online and in order. Turns out the regional office’s internet connection to the national BIR computer system has been down for months and nothing that has been filed in that time frame shows up on the national BIR computer system. Better part of three days before they would admit it, blamed it on the need to “clean” the system after the April 15th rush of ITR being filed.
No problem, just pay for three sets of certified true copies of the ITR and Alpha list and head back to Manila. Sure, if they can find any of the documents. But their data base shows everything was filed, surely we can bring copies of everything and have them stamped certified true copies?
Not only no, but hell no. We have to wait until they are able to find the original filing and go through an audit despite the same idiot officers signing off on the same paperwork ten days earlier.
Now the amazing thing is that the idiots knew they sent us to Manila knowing that their files and the national BIR files don’t match and won’t match until they fix the internet cable. Knowing that we will return and ask for certified true copies of the missing documents, documents that they know are filed and in good order yet they take the application fee and send us on our way, fat, dumb, and happy.
The lesson is that when you file anything turn around and get multiple copies certified true and hang onto them till you get past the next regulator hump. Plan on at least three trips if you have a CPA helping you and everything is in exact order. Some s***head up the chain is going to slam on the brakes and generate more work and more expense for the regional office and for your accountant, all in the idea of creating jobs.