FIRB releases FIRMS, an online registration application for easier Tax incentive management

The Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) creates new online registration application called Fiscal Incentives Registration and Monitoring System (FIRMS) to give investors and firms a more convenient way to pass and monitor their tax incentive applications to all the investment promotion agencies (IPAs) in the Philippines.

20 June 2022

Philippine businesses and firms have received access to a useful new online registration application, the Fiscal Incentives Registration and Monitoring System (FIRMS) as announced by the Department of Finance (DOF). This online application was created by the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) as way to provide a more convenient way for firms, enterprises, and investors to submit and monitor applications for tax incentives in any of the investment promotion agencies (IPAs).

In statement by the FIRB Finance Assistant Secretary and Secretariat Head Juvy Danofrata, explains that FIRMS is among the most significant accomplishments of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, since it was signed last year by former Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte. 

Afterwards, Danofrata stated that “The development of FIRMS is a representation of our efforts to ensure uniformity and organization in the FIRB processes, specifically for a more transparent, automated and easier tax incentive application, approval, and monitoring of our stakeholders,”. This showcases the FIRB’s confidence regarding the positive impact of FIRMS towards business entities applying for tax incentives.

On September 28, 2021, Albay Representative Joey Salceda said that “Now that there is a unified registration portal for applicants for tax incentives under CREATE, it should be easier for investors to get tax incentives if they are qualified. This adopts best practice from countries such as Singapore where the investment promotion framework is already very sophisticated,”.

Additionally, the new application will be useful in tracking investment commitments. This a significant since as explained by Salceda “Of course, investors do not get tax incentives from us for free. They have to actually follow through with their investment commitments, create the jobs they say they will generate, and yield the economic benefits they say they can put up,”.

The application contains as a certain feature that will simplify remote applications and in turn create a large boost in foreign direct investments (FDIs).

“If you’re a foreigner and you are not physically present in the Philippines, this also makes applications much easier, since you no longer have to retain someone in the country to do the paperwork for you,” Salceda states.

He also added that “There are small enterprises that are actually very promising startups. We want them, too. But they are unable to maintain physical agents processing their applications in the Philippines. This portal makes it easier for them to do business in the country,”.

Despite the recent announcement, the FIRMS had already been released on June 2021 to accommodate the investors whose projects were given incentives by the FIRB in keeping with the provisions of the CREATE act.

In accordance with the CREATE act, the FIRB is tasked to oversee the incentives grant for these projects who have an investment value that reached up to PHP 1 Billion each, showing just how useful an online tool like this could be for the organisation.

And under this act, the FIRB has been able to get the tax incentives grant for one the biggest projects of 2021, the construction, and operations of the railway of the Makati subway project, which estimated to be the largest project investment the year had, totalling to about PHP 81 billion based on the tax incentives gathered in that same year.

The project is stated to start its operations on 2026, it aims to improve Metro Manila’s transport system, specifically, it focuses on the areas found on the Philippine’s financial district.

For this year, the FIRB granted tax perks for the largest project it has approved, the establishment of the various connectivity facilities for high-speed broadband services of the internet service provider company, Converge ICT Solutions, Inc. The Converge project’s investment value is said to amount to PHP 151 billion.

Danofrata then explained that “Most of these incentivized investments are located outside the National Capital Region (NCR), thereby energizing rural development and generating more jobs in the countryside,”. With further comments explaining how she’s continuously pursuing initiatives that would help stakeholders with their registered business enterprises (RBEs), specifically if they’re IPAs.

Danofrata explained that she had been organizing townhall meetings consistently, along with showcasing the success of her on-site IPA Workshop Series, which accomplished training 152  152 IPA staff members in conducting cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and in navigating FIRMS.

The announcement closed with Danofrata explaining that “The various engagements led by the Secretariat are aligned with our commitment to assist our stakeholders on the implementation of the CREATE Act and its IRR,".

Lastly, she states that "We recognize our stakeholders' crucial role in effectively carrying out the provisions of the CREATE Act. Our joint effort with all stakeholders is important for us to establish a performance-based, time-bound, targeted and transparent tax incentives regime in the country,".

Who would benefit from a FIRMS account?

One of the business entities that could most benefit from a FIRMS account are those who want to register a new activity/project while at the same time looking to apply for a tax incentive. To get started on a FIRMS account, its best to coordinate with a recognized IPA from the FIRB, you can find out how to apply HERE.

Enterprises that have at least one project or activity that is currently registered under an IPA is also recommended to have a FIRMS account.

For information on how register to the FIRMS application click HERE.