BIR Registration Guide, Requirements, and Steps for Online Freelancers in the Philippines

Before anything else, we need to tackle the following question first: “Should you register at the BIR and pay taxes if you are an online freelancer in the Philippines?” Yes you do. It’s your duty as a citizen of the country to pay your dues to its coffers. You are the recipient of numerous public services which are being funded by money from taxpayers. So it’s about right that you register and pay your taxes if you are an online freelance worker in the Philippines. It doesn’t matter if the company who pays for your freelance services are based in the Philippines or abroad. You still have to pay taxes based on your income.

It’s important that you know of how the Bureau of Internal Revenue or BIR defines a self-employed individual. As an online freelancer in the Philippines, you belong to this category. Whether you are a freelance writer, a freelance graphic artist, a virtual assistant, a language tutor, or a medical transcriptionist, you are considered to be a self-employed individual.

Here is the BIR’s definition of a self-employed person:
- A person engaged in business and who derives his personal income from such business.
- A professional such as (1) a person who derives his income from practicing his profession like lawyers, and anyone registered with the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) such as doctors, dentists, certified accountants, and others; and (2) anyone who pursues an art and make his living from it such as athletes, writers, and others. Freelancers and home-based service providers are also considered as professionals.

What to bring when you go to the BIR office to register as a taxpayer:
1. National Statistics Office (NSO) birth certificate
2. Contract or company certification, if applicable
3. Occupational Tax Receipt (OTR) or Professional Tax Receipt (PRT), if applicable
4. Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) ID, if applicable
5. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) certificate of business name, if applicable
6. Photocopy of business permit from the mayor, if applicable
7. Affidavit indicating the rates, manner of billings, and the factors considered in determining service fees as specified and provided in the BIR Revenue Regulation 4-2014.
8. Tax Identification Number or TIN – Don’t worry, you can easily get your TIN using the BIR’s website. You can quickly secure your TIN there and it’s free of charge. If for some reason, you can’t use the BIR portal, you can always secure your TIN when you register at the nearest BIR office.

Here are the steps in registering at the BIR as an online freelancer in the Philippines:
1. Get a copy of BIR Form 1901 then duly accomplish it. You can get a copy of the form either from the nearest BIR office or you can simply download it from the bureau’s official website. Don’t forget to get and accomplish several copies.
2. Submit the accomplished form along with other necessary documents to the Revenue District Office (RDO) that covers your location. You will be asked to pay an annual registration fee of at least 500 pesos.
3. Pay for the documentary stamp tax (15 pesos) and the certification fee (15 pesos).
4. Attend the briefing to be conducted by the RDO for new registrants. It’s important that you attend this briefing so that you will be aware of all your rights and responsibilities as a taxpayer.
5. The RDO will issue to you a Certificate of Registration (Form 2303), a Books of Accounts, an Authority to Print (ATP), and an Ask for Receipt business notice.
6. Follow any additional steps that the RDO requires you to do.