BIR subpoena duces tecum for Bookkeepers and accounting staff who possessed the books and records
Why bookkeepers shall be held liable for bir subpoena duces tecum?
A subpoena duces tecum (SDT) is a legal order issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) that requires a person to produce certain documents or records related to tax matters. The BIR has the authority to issue SDTs under Section 5 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC), as amended, as part of its power to obtain information, summon and examine persons, and evaluate tax compliance.
Bookkeepers are among the persons who may be subject to SDTs, as they are responsible for keeping the books of accounts and other accounting records of taxpayers. Bookkeepers may be required to submit the following documents or records, among others, depending on the nature and scope of the tax audit or investigation:
- General journal and ledger
- Cash receipts and disbursements books
- Sales journal and ledger
- Purchase journal and ledger
- Inventory records
- Financial statements
- Tax returns and supporting schedules
- Contracts, invoices, receipts, vouchers, and other source documents
Bookkeepers shall comply with SDTs within 14 days from the date of issuance, unless a valid reason or justification is given for non-compliance. Failure to comply with SDTs may result in the following consequences:
- The BIR may presume that the taxpayer has no books of accounts or records, or that they are falsified or fraudulent, and may proceed to make an assessment based on best evidence obtainable.
- The BIR may file a criminal complaint against the bookkeeper for violation of Section 266 of the NIRC, as amended, which penalizes any person who neglects or refuses to obey any lawful order issued by the BIR. The penalty for this offense is a fine of not less than P5,000 but not more than P15,000 and imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than five years.
- The BIR may also file a civil action against the bookkeeper for damages caused by his or her non-compliance with the SDT.
Therefore, bookkeepers shall be held liable for SDTs issued by the BIR because they have a legal duty to provide information or records that are relevant to tax matters. Bookkeepers should cooperate with the BIR and comply with SDTs promptly and completely to avoid any adverse consequences. Bookkeepers should also keep their books of accounts and records updated, accurate, and complete at all times to facilitate tax audits or investigations.
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