receipt, philippines

Evanesco is Latin for I vanish, I disappear, I fade away. In the world of Harry Potter, it’s the vanishing charm that makes objects disappear. Where do vanished objects go? “Into nonbeing, which is to say, everything,” according to the inimitable Professor Minerva McDonagall. Ponder that one for a while.

Receipts in the Philippines don’t need the vanishing spell because they have a tendency to disappear all on their own. Okay, the receipts themselves don’t actually vanish; but what’s printed on them—what makes them receipts in the first place—fades into nothing. Sort of like Harry’s Marauder’s Map, once mischief is managed.

You can’t hide from the law

According to one thermal paper company, thermal paper fades because the image is a result of a chemical reaction that “can undo itself after some time because of the fact that dyes will always be liable to go back to their original white state.” This company’s best products can last 5 to 7 years, while lower quality products last no more than 1 to 2 years. Evanesco!

Receipts manufactured by LBC Express Inc. are widely used in the Philippines and are particularly prone to fading. The company acknowledged this in September 2014 in response to a customer petition: “Please know that we understand your petition and are currently addressing this issue by reviewing our supplies and sources to ensure that we issue receipts that do not fade.”

The creator of the petition wrote, “

[S]ome said there is a provision in the law implying that receipt must last up to 3 years in at the least.” He was unaware of it, but he was right: receipts that soon fade and become unreadable do not comply with Philippines tax code.

Section 235 of the tax code reads, in relevant part,

“All books of accounts … shall be preserved … for a period beginning from the last entry in each book until the last day prescribed within Section 203 within which the Commissioner is authorized to make an assessment. The said books and records shall be subject to examination and inspection by internal revenue officers.”

The minimum retention period is 3 years. See Sections 203, 222, and 235 for additional details.

The non-thermal paper mandate

The Philippines Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has been working for years to rectify the problem of fading receipts. On September 21, 2015, BIR issued Revenue Regulation Nos. 10-2015, which mandates the use of non-thermal paper for all CRM/POS and other invoice/receipt-generating machine/software.

All taxpayers are now required to “preserve their books of accounts” for a period of 10 years. Invoices, receipts, vouchers and returns are specifically referenced. In addition, “all tape receipts issued, and the data printed on the receipts, [must be] of a quality that can be preserved for a period within which the Commissioner is authorized to make an assessment and collection of taxes….” In case there was ever any doubt, receipts that quickly fade are not permitted.

Recognizing the costs required to transition from thermal paper to non-thermal paper, BIR has created a staggered schedule for implementation:

  • Machines registered prior to July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013 must comply with the new regulation on or before September 1, 2016.
  • Machines registered July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014 must comply with the new regulation on or before July 1, 2017.
  • Machines registered July 1, 2014 onwards must comply with the new regulation on or before July 1, 2018.

Revenue Regulation Nos. 10-2015 provides additional information, such as information that official receipts/sales invoices/other commercial invoices must provide.

Even wizards like paper trails

Even in the fantasy world of Harry Potter, there is a Ministry of Magic where documents are maintained and papers are filed. Vanishing receipts probably wouldn’t fly there any more than they do in the Philippines.

photo credit: Åkaj! via photopin (license)