“Hindi lahat ng patients ko nakakapagbayad ng consultations,” she told GMA News Online by phone. “So paano maa-assign ‘yun ng bayad sa gobyerno?”
She added she issues receipt only when the patient asks for it. “Minsan nagbibigay ako pag humihingi sila ng resibo. Pero pag hindi sila humihingi, hindi na ako nagbibigay.”
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is requiring doctors to issue receipts during consultations as part of government efforts to ensure that professionals pay their respective professional income tax.
Since doctors are known to be a well-paying profession where official receipts are not given to patients, taxes are assumed to be vastly underpaid.
According to the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), a doctor’s professional income tax could be as much as P200,000 every year.
Nelson Aspe, deputy commissioner for operations of the BIR, said they decided to go after doctors after they noticed that doctors have the lowest income tax filed among other professionals.
“Nung nire-evaluate namin ang mga tax filers, sila (doctors) ang mga pinakamababa,” he said without mentioning figures, citing confidentiality.
Aspe insisted that issuing receipts is “obligatory” even among businesses and professionals. “The basic statement is that anybody earning… magi-issue ng receipts in their services or sales of goods,” he said.
“[But] over the years, mababa ang compliance sa pagbibigay ng receipts at eventually pag-declare ng tamang income,” he added.
The BIR has even gone to the extent of monitoring hospital clinics and interviewing patients just to go after these doctors.
“Our operatives [will] serve notices that their clinic is under surveillance, for purposes of monitoring of daily income,” Aspe said.
Dr. Modesto Llamas, PMA president, criticized the BIR’s surveillance operations, calling it a distraction on the patient-doctor consultations.
“We are not in favor of that. Because that is distracting the services [para sa] mga pasyente,” he said in a separate phone interview.
“Parang ang nagyayari, nasi-single out na ang mga doctor. Imagine, you have a BIR agent sitting outside your office observing you. Minsan nabalitaan ko, merong mga ina-apprehened na mga pasyente pa, so embararasing na mga situation,” he added.
Llamas said the BIR need not go the extent of undercover means, since the association intensified its educational drive on the tax-paying duties of professional doctors. “We are educating our physicians… We are encouraging them to follow the law or obey the law to issue receipts,” he said.
Aspe, on the other hand, ensured that they would not interfere in the daily routines of doctors during their surveillance. “Ang sasabihin nila, natataranta ang mga pasyente. We will not interfere the healing or consultation. Andun lang kami sa labas.”
He, however, warned that doctors caught violating the law may face penalties such as a fine of P1,000 to P3,000 or even face charges of tax evasion.
Once convicted, doctors may face revokation of their license upon the recommendation of the Professional Regulatory Commission, Aspe said.
Despite the stringent crack-down of the BIR on tax-evading professionals, some doctors saw light on the BIR’s policy, including a cardiologist-internist at Manila Doctors Hospital who said he issues receipts to show his honesty and credibility.
“With regards sa career, ayaw ko masira ang career ko pag mawala ang credibility at trust ng patient. Ang patient-doctor relationship, naka-hinge sa trust and credibility. Pag nasira ka sa patient mo, katulad niyan, hindi ka sumunod sa batas, masisira lahat ‘yan,” Dr. Anthony Leachon, an internist-cardiologist at Manila Doctors Hospital, told GMA News Online.
Also a consultant for the Department of Health (DOH), Leachon added that “doctors should actually be a paragon of trust and credibility.”
But for Llamas, it may still take time for the crackdown to compel all doctors to follow the law, since giving out receipts is not common in their profession.
“The reality is for a long long time, matagal na ang mga doctor hindi nagi-issue ng receipts… We don’t consider kasi our services as a business. Kaya siguro ganyan ang orientation ng mga doctor,” he said.
Dr. Amelie, the obstetrician from Pangasinan, agreed to this. “Ang pagdo-doctor, service ‘yan,” she said. — KBK, GMA News