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Medics turn on Philippines’ Bureau of Internal Revenue for ad labeling doctors tax cheats

Bureau of Internal Revenue ad

Ad for Philippines tax office in Philippine Daily Inquirer

A print ad for the tax office in the Philippines has come under fire from the medical profession and others on social media for demonising doctors as tax evaders.

The ad for the Bureau of Internal Revenue, created by JWT Manila, shows a doctor sitting on the shoulders of a teacher with the words, ‘When you don’t pay your taxes you’re a burden to those who do”.

The doctor is portrayed as Marjorie Villena, who supposedly earns P1,075,080.52 ($US24,000) and pays P7,424 (US$167) in taxes, while the teacher, known as Carina Santos in the ad, earns P852,169.48 (US$19,000) but pays P221,694 ($US5,000) to the tax man.

The half-page ad ran in national newspaper the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Sunday.

Dr. Leo Olarte, the president of the Philippine Medical Profession, has complained about the ad, saying in a statement: “To project to the entire nation through the trimedia that medical doctors are tax cheats per se is absolutely unfair.”

However, Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares has said that doctors should not be offended by the ad, which was the result of a string of complaints from citizens that doctors were not issuing receipts.

“Instead of getting hurt, shouldn’t doctors who pay inaccurate taxes feel ashamed?,” he told the Inquirer. He said he hoped the ad would prompt doctors to work on changing their image and promoting tax compliance.

The debate is now gathering momentum on the Inquirer’s Facebook page and other social media sites in the Philippines, a country not known for the effectiveness of its tax bureau.

Ad agency JWT told Mumbrella: “We are in support of the government’s efforts to collect the right taxes from each and every corporation and individual in its goal for inclusive growth.”

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