As a citizen of the Philippines or a company doing business there, you must file taxes with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the country's tax agency. Before doing so, you must obtain a Tax Identification Number in the Philippines. There are different ways to apply for a TIN which require specific forms. How you apply for a TIN hinges on your citizenship and employment status.
What Is a Tax Identification Number?
As it is in most countries around the world, Philippine citizens must file their taxes annually with a government agency. Both natural-born and judicial citizens require a TIN to do so. According to the country's constitution, "Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship." The Philippines defines judicial citizens as entities who have at least 60 percent of their capital owned by a natural-born resident.
A TIN officially identifies taxpayers of the Philippines, and those who have one will use it their entire lives. A TIN card can also serve as a valid ID in many instances. Private or government entities can request it in certain situations, such as for driver's license applications. Using or applying for more than one TIN is illegal. Committing this criminal act can result in arrest, a fine or imprisonment.
How Many Numbers Is a TIN?
The TIN number format in the Philippines is 12 digits in length. The first 9 numbers are the TIN itself, and the last three numbers are its branch codes. The first number of a TIN signifies the identity of the taxpayer, with "0" used for corporations and 1-9 used for various individuals. The second through eighth numbers are in sequence, and the ninth is the check digit. A TIN can not only identify a specific type of taxpayer, but it can also reveal the time of issue.
Forms Used to Apply for a TIN
Applying for a TIN is free to everyone, but there are different forms for applying that are relevant to your specific employment and citizenship status. These documents are all official BIR forms. Fill out the one that best describes who you are as a taxpayer as you would any standard tax document with applicable information including your full name, income, marital status, number of dependents and whatever else the form requires.
- Form 1901: Used by those with mixed incomes, those who are self-employed, estates and trusts
- Form 1902: Used by individuals that are non-resident citizens, resident aliens and employees with a purely compensation-based income
- Form 1903: Used by corporations and partnerships
- Form 1904: Used by one-time taxpayers working or otherwise providing services for one year or those registering under E.O. 98, which applies to transactions with a government office
Documents to Include With Your TIN Application
Each form requires some personal documentation in requesting your TIN. Depending on your taxpayer status, you may have to include a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, a passport, leases, franchise agreements, working permits, bank statements or your business name registration. The documents required are as follows:
- Taxpayers with mixed incomes, those that are self-employed and estates and trusts must include a birth certificate or any valid document showing their name, address and date of birth. If applicable, they must also include a mayor's permit, a DIT business name certificate (submission must have taken place before the issuance of a BIR certificate of registration, also known as Form 2303), a Professional Regulation Commission ID or a Professional Tax Tax Receipt (PTR) issued by local government.
- Those with "purely compensable" income, such as employees, must include a birth certificate or any valid document showing their name, address and date of birth, a certificate of employment or a valid company ID.
- Corporations and partnerships must show an SEC Certificate of Registration, like a certificate of incorporation or co-partnership, a license the allows them to do business in the country (if a foreign corporation), or a mayor's permit submitted before the issuance of a BIR certificate of registration.
- Non-resident citizens much show a passport with current visa.
- Overseas contract workers and seamen who get their income from a foreign source must include a birth certificate or any valid document showing name, address and date of birth, a passport with current visa or an employment contract.
- One time taxpayers must show a birth certificate or any valid document showing name, address and date of birth (as buyer or seller), a property or stock deed for sale or transfer or a donation deed.
- A person paying a final tax on winnings must include a certificate from the awarding person or company.
- A vehicle registrant must show a birth certificate or any valid document showing name, address and date of birth, a deed of sale, official receipt or cash invoice.
Getting a TIN if You're Unemployed
It's harder, but not impossible, to get a TIN if you are unemployed or a student in the Philippines. Regardless, having one is a must. You'll need it to apply for a driver's license, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance and a passport, as well as for opening a bank account or applying for scholarships. You may be able to apply for a TIN using E.O. 98.
To apply, use Form 1904 and submit it with the necessary documents to your local RDO, or Revenue District Office. If you're an individual applying for a TIN using E.O. 98, you'll need to include copies of a valid ID that show your name, address and your date of birth. These documents include a birth certificate, a passport, a driver's license, a Professional Regulation Commission ID card, an Integrated Bar of the Philippines ID card, a Community Tax Certificate or a marriage license. Non--individuals applying via E.O. 98 must include documents that show any transactions between a non-resident foreign corporation and the withholding agent, such as a bank certificate, invoice or contract.
Submitting Your TIN Application
Submitting a TIN application is relatively easy and can be done both in person and online. To apply from within the Philippines, you can mail your forms and a copy of your documentation in or you can visit a local RDO office in person. Remember to keep copies of your forms, as you will need them to visit the RDO's Authorized Agent Bank to pay a fee of ₱500 for your annual registration and a fee of ₱15 for the Documentary Stamp Tax. Try to file and make these payments within the same week to avoid an audit.
After filing your forms, you may also need to attend a meeting at your local RDO. There, you'll learn about your taxpayer responsibilities and duties. Afterward, you'll receive a Form 2303 Certificate of Registration as proof of your completion of the briefing. The certificate will include your TIN. With it, you will be allowed to conduct business legally in the Philippines.
You can apply for your TIN online if you are a single proprietor or professional via the BIR's eTIN portal on its website. Users must enter a valid email address to receive a TIN and any further taxpayer instructions from the BIR. Even if you apply online, you must also pay the registration fee of ₱500 to an Authorized Agent Bank located within the RDO jurisdiction or through a BIR-accredited payment facility. You'll receive this information via email notification.
How to Get a Digitized TIN Card
The government of the Philippines also recognizes digitized TIN cards as valid forms of ID. To apply for one, you'll need a government-issued ID which can be a Social Security System card, a Professional Regulation Commission certificate, voter ID card, driver’s license, passport or birth certificate. To apply in person, head to your local BIR office, fill out the application form and submit it along with your ID and a request to have it digitized. It will take about a day to receive your digital TIN ID unless there is a backlog of applicants.
Recovering a Lost TIN Number
If you've forgotten or otherwise lost your TIN, you must retrieve it, as you will need it for various reasons throughout your life. You cannot apply for another one if you already have one. However, you can find out what your lost TIN is and have your card reissued if necessary. Do this online by emailing the BIR Contact Center or go to a local BIR office to fill out a Form 1905 for your lost card. Make sure to note it as an Affidavit of Loss (for a lost card) or hand in your original TIN card (for a damaged card) with valid ID.
Expats and the Philippine Tax System
If you are considering a move to the Philippines and want to set up a business, you may wonder if you need to pay taxes in your newly adopted home. As with most countries, you will likely have to pay some taxes including income tax. However, those taxes may be deductible, depending on your situation. Deduction rates may also vary for an expat living in the Philippines, as there are different categories of foreigners.
Expats who live in the Philippines and are not citizens are known as resident aliens. Those Philippine citizens who do not live in their home country are known as non-resident citizens. Both must pay taxes if they earn income in the Philippines. If you create a business in the Philippines, you must also pay taxes on income you make in and outside of the country. Foreign corporations must pay taxes on income earned within the country only.
Taxes Rates in the Philippines
Foreign residents of the Philippines must pay taxes on their net income. Fees can range from 5 percent to 32 percent. They do not have to go to a tax office to pay taxes. Instead, their employers deduct their taxes from their income before paying them. Expats must also pay taxes on passive income made in the Philippines from sources including dividends, interest, royalties, annuities, wages and real estate profits.
Non-resident foreigners working within a trade or business must pay their taxes at the same rates, plus an additional 20 percent on dividends received from companies within the Philippines. Those who are not involved in a trade or business must pay taxes of about 25 percent on gross income made in the country. Capital gains taxes will apply to plus-values made from selling shares in a Philippine company or from real estate. Those expats employed by regional offices of multinational companies, offshore banks or oil contractors must pay 15 percent on their gross income.
In January 2019, the BIR implemented a new tax table called Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act. It includes a reduction of rates, a simplified system for taxpayers, the expansion of a value-added tax base and excise taxes on sugar, cars, and petroleum products.
If you have any further questions on how to acquire a TIN including what forms to use, what to include with those forms and the current tax rate in the Philippines, visit the BIR's website at www.bir.gov.ph.