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Window Shopper: Will e-invoicing be a boost or bane to e-preneurs?

With the proposed e-invoicing of BIR, established online shopping websites such as Zalora will have few adjustments as their systems are already in place. It's the unregistered online entrepreneurs that may have to face the big challenge. Photo source: Zalora website.

With the emergence of e-invoicing, online traders are expressing mixed reactions to the move of Bureau of Investigation (BIR) of taxing online entrepreneurs.

E-preneurs favoring the move explain that it will help keep online purchasing more secure. “The e-invoice system will filter the brands that sell online, meaning legitimate purchases only,” says Kato Chua Ednacot of moonshinegarb.multiply.com.

According to Kato, the onslaught of BIR to tax sellers will lessen those who try to sell online as a part-time business and, hopefully, control the quality of items sold. “At least, the quality of the online shops is better. (There will be) less scammers, and items will be nicer if e-invoice was applied because some would be discouraged to do business online, which is really anyone who has access to facebook and multiply,” she says.

What’s more, the e-invoice system could also provide leverage to the consumers. As Kertsie See of cocomobeachwear.multiply.com, says, “I think the buyers will feel safer with purchasing online as the transaction will be legit in the eyes of the law.”

Those who disagree, on the other hand, said. “I am against e-invoice, only if they will implement a special site wherein everything is electronically capable of discounts, expenses like paying sites etc. (then it will be good),” says Janice dela Cruz who runs wedgeonline.multiply.com, a DTI and BIR registered boutique.

“I suggest that BIR should provide a Philippine website wherein all Filipino sellers are obliged to use electronic invoicing system and also DTI and BIR registered with permits,” she says.

Janice’s response is due to her loyal customers who she often gives discounts to. Some online stores, especially those with small or home-based operations, actually offer incentives to regular shoppers either through haggling or giving them special prices or rates. Janice explains that her prices would be affected by the e-invoicing.“Pag-electronic invoice, automatic yung tax ng BIR, what if the client requests for discount?”

To this, Kato of Moonshine responds that the current taxing system already affects their price, even though the e-invoice is not yet in full swing. “The e-invoice (or tax) affects our pricing, that’s why our prices are a bit high compared to other e-shops. I guess the others would really be affected,” says Kato. “Plus, we don’t give discounts to our customers, but, we do inform them if we have a sale.”

According to Kertsie of Cocomo, the e-invoicing would not affect their prices. She adds, “we will shoulder the additional tax cost for the buyer.”

Still, Janice asserts, “Kindly consider whether or not our business is technologically prepared to embrace the electronic invoice procedure. Prior to implementation, BIR should consider that there are small-time sellers. There must be an exemption.”

Elaine Marantan who used to run Rainbow Bling on Facebook, and is still selling overruns of her inventory shares, “(Taxing) online shops, even though they’re selling just as a hobby or simply do it just like selling lemonade, can surely both have good and bad effects to sellers and buyers.”

It’s the big-time online sellers who will have no problem with the e-invoicing, as they are already registered with the BIR and are thus already paying their dues.  Small-time entrepreneurs—such as the young fashion designer selling her clothes, the homemaker selling her bottled atchara or baked cookies, or disabled entrepreneur making craft items from home, for instance—or those who are creating their niche in the online market are the people that the BIR must consider.

Until then, where entrepreneurs need to be encouraged and motivated as they are an important part of a vibrant economy—online entrepreneurs, let us know your views.

InterAksyon.com