By Jun Ramirez
Gas station owners nationwide found retailing untaxed petroleum products will face arrest and criminal prosecution and the smuggled commodities confiscated in favor of the government, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) warned Monday.
Revenue Deputy Commissioner for Operations Arnel Guballa issued the warning after the BIR, Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Finance (DOF) signed the regulations implementing the fuel marking project prescribed under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law.
Basically, fuel marking consists of pouring chemicals to gasoline and other oil products which mixture produces certain coloration not visible to the naked eye.
But when examined by special electronic gadgets, inspectors can easily determine if the supply came from legitimate sources or smugglers.
The scheme is aimed at curbing the lucrative oil smuggling racket where government is reportedly losing some P30 billion annually in excise and value-added taxes.
Motorists as well as transport operators hailed the scheme as it will also ensure the quality of petroleum products.
It is reportedly common knowledge that some unscrupulous gas station owners adulterate gasoline with other lower priced products like kerosene to maximize profits.
Guballa said taxmen will conduct within the next few months periodic surprise inspection of all gas outlets in the metropolis and in the provinces.
Included in the drive are warehouses and depots where these products are stored before delivery to retail outlets.
Under the guideline, the pouring of chemicals to oil tankers and trucks as well as depots will be undertaken by the BOC.
The BIR will install the automated testing instruments on vehicles that will roam streets to conduct the random inspections.
Guballa said under the guideline BIR and BOC enforcers are clothed with police powers to seize the unmarked products and arrest gas station owners.
Erring gas traders also face criminal prosecution for violations of pertinent provisions of the Tax and Tariff Codes.