MANILA, Philippines – Saying the Bureau of Internal Revenue was encroaching on the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines has asked the high court to void a new tax regulation requiring self-employed professionals like them to disclose their service fees and client information.
In a petition asking for a temporary restraining order filed April 8, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, an association of all lawyers in the country, assailed Revenue Regulation 4-2014 titled “Guidelines and Policies for the Monitoring of Services Fees of Professionals” as unconstitutional.
RR 4-2014, dated March 3, requires all self-employed professionals to submit an “affidavit indicating the rates, manner of billings, and the factors they consider in determining their service fees upon registration and every year thereafter on or before Jan. 31.”
They were also required to submit their books of accounts and official appointment books, containing the names of their clients and the dates and time of the meetings.
Even in pro bono cases when no fee is charged, RR 4-2014 also requires lawyers to issue a BIR-registered receipt showing that a 100 per cent discount was given.
The IBP said the regulation issued by the BIR and the Department of Finance “encroaches upon the court’s exclusive authority and jurisdiction to regulate and prescribe rules” for the legal profession.
“The power to promulgate rules on the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleadings and practice and the law profession is lodged exclusively in the Supreme Court, not in any other agency of government, least of all the Department of
Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue,” the IBP said.
The IBP also said that both the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Rules of Court state that the lawyer-client relationship should be “strictly personal, fiduciary and highly confidential.”
“One rule adopted to serve this purpose is the rule on attorney-client privilege. Under the operation of this privilege, an attorney is mandated to keep inviolate his client’s secrets or confidences,” the IBP said.