First off, let’s tackle the terms that best defines us freelancers:
- Whatever may be your field of expertise, you are identified as a professional or self-employed, since you are an individual practicing your profession. The BIR may ask if you have a license, so just inform them that your line of work doesn’t require one to operate.
- Registering as a professional means labeling yourself as an individual with a business of your own. This involves unique requirements that differ from registering as a tax-paying employee of a company.
BIR Requirements for Professionals/Freelancers
Before visiting the BIR, you must have these requirements on hand:
- A registered TIN number — link
- P500 TIN registration fee
- (1) xerox copy of your birth certificate
- (1) xerox copy of your marriage certificate (if married) and the birth certificate/s of your dependents, if you have any.
- (2) copies of completed BIR 1901 form — part 1 | part 2
- (1) original and (2) xerox copies of BIR 605 payment form used to pay the P500 registration fee
- (1) xerox copy of proof of address
- (1) xerox copy of ID with name, birthdate, and signature
Once you’ve managed to submit all these, the BIR will require you to buy and/or register the following:
- Books: (1) ledger, (2) columnar books, and (1) linear journal at P140
- (1) Documentary stamp at P15
- Invoices, depending on how much your printer charges
- Your printer’s registration fee, TIN number, and the job order for printing of invoices.
- Application for a TIN card (free)
I bought and registered all of these at the BIR office. Very convenient, I must say.
At this point, you should start looking for a printer who can assist you with the printing of your invoices. You also need to acquire a job order, the printer’s TIN number, and registration fee as these are part of the requirements.
In my case, since I didn’t know any, the BIR officer offered to contact and order a set of invoices from their own printers for me.
The Briefing for New Registrants
After submitting all my requirements, I attended a short seminar/briefing where a BIR representative walked me through the basics of taxes. This was a very good opportunity for me to understand the taxes I’ll be paying, to ask specific questions that are important for freelancers, and to clarify vague information about taxation.
If your revenue district office requires your attendance to this briefing, ask when the next schedule will be and attend it. This is a very good opportunity for you to ask questions, to clarify what isn’t clear about your taxes, and the like. Luckily for me, the representative who was available was very nice to me and explained the basics in a very simple and understandable manner.
These requirements are necessary to acquire two very important documents: your COR (Certificate of Registration) and your TIN card. Without these, your application will not be processed.
The Steps to Registering as a Tax Payer
I must admit that registering at the BIR was no easy trip, so if you want to avoid paying a big amount for transportation fares and waiting in line for hours, follow these steps:
- Register for a TIN number via the eReg page of the BIR website. Use the link above. You will then receive an email containing your TIN number, instructions on how to pay the registration fee, and a completed 1901 form that you can print and submit to the BIR. Print two copies of this form.
- Check which RDO (revenue district office) covers the location of your office. In my case, it’s RDO 33, which covers Ermita-Intramuros-Malate.
- Pay your P500 registration fee using BIR form 605 and through the following options:
- At an accredited agent bank of your RDO,
- G-cash, or
- The BIR’s eFPS or Electronic Filing and Payment System
I didn’t understand the instructions on how to use G-cash or eFPS to pay though, so I suggest paying your P500 at an accredited agent bank. Don’t forget to xerox 2 copies of the 605 payment form for the BIR.
- Visit your RDO. The best time I’d suggest is getting there on or before 09:00 AM to avoid the long lines. I got there at around 08:30 AM and so far the BIR personnel were energetic and attentive.
- Submit all of your documents. Make sure they’re complete and that you have the right number of xerox copies.
- The BIR officer will then instruct you to buy and register the documentary stamp and books. Make sure you have enough money (and spare change) to purchase these. If you don’t have a printer to hire for your invoices, ask the person assisting you if they could refer you to a printer that they know of.
- The BIR officer will stamp your books with labels and ask you to write your name, TIN number, address, and the purpose of the book. The two columnar books are cash receipts and cash disbursement, while the other two are the ledger and the journal.
- Attend the briefing or short seminar. Take down notes, listen carefully to the discussion, and ask all of your questions before leaving the seminar. Oh, and don’t forget to sign the attendance sheet/record book.
- Don’t forget to apply for your TIN card. Just ask the officer in charge of issuing the TIN cards and he/she will ask you to fill out a slip of paper with necessary details, such as your name, TIN number, address, contact number, etc.
- Get your COR and your TIN card.
If you were able to submit all of your requirements (including your printer’s requirements and the job order), you’ll be able to have your COR printed, signed, and your TIN card issued on the same day.
In my case, I have to wait for the printer’s requirements before I could get the COR and TIN, so all these including my invoices and books will be released together the next time I come back. If you’re going through a similar situation, ask when you can come back and confirm with the BIR officer that your documents and books will be released by then.
Important Last-minute Tips
And that’s how the registration process works. Before I end this post though, here are a couple of important tips that will hopefully make your trip to the BIR less stressful and frustrating.
- Be early when visiting the BIR. They don’t have a convenient and effective system of managing the people who visit for BIR concerns, so go there at around 08:00 AM or before 09:30 AM to avoid congestion.
- Gather all of your documents ASAP. It’s really a hassle to travel all the way to the BIR only to find out that you’re missing one or two requirements.
- If you do arrive late, bring entertainment with you. I brought a book to keep my occupied while waiting for my turn at the tax assistance unit. If you find entertainment in people watching though, that’s fine too.
- Find a printer you trust and that’s affordable. I was charged a big amount for printing, since the BIR officer was the one who facilitated that particular requirement for me. If you want to save on costs for printing, search for your own printer already.
- Don’t leave your house without spare change. This is especially for those who take public transportation and for the requirements that should be bought at the BIR. Keep a breakdown of P500 in your wallet, just to be sure.
- Bring a bottle of water. You’ll never know when you’ll get thirsty from all the waiting and the accumulated body heat!
You can also download this tax guide written and designed for self-employed professionals. Just right-click the link and save the link as PDF.