Congratulations! If you are here, it means that you are "somehow" interested about paying taxes or curious about the procedure you have to take in order to register at the BIR. But, first things first.
"How does BIR categorize online workers or online freelancers?"
As of this writing, BIR doesn't have proper classification for the online freelancers. I talked to several people at the BIR and they passed me from one person to another. When they ask me about the nature of my work, I said I work online. They told me to get DTI, Mayor's permit, etc. as if they see us as having a local business or selling goods online. But then I insist that I don't need those and I will register as self-employed professional (without license). Good thing that I already did extensive research prior to going there and I have a lot of information ready.
Online Filipino Freelancers BIR Registration Guide
Step 1a. Get Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
BIR Form 1901 - Application for Registration (self-employed)
This is applicable for those who don't have a TIN yet. If you are previously employed, for sure you already have your TIN so you don't need to do this step. You can register online or go to the nearest BIR office in your area to register manually. If you chose to register online, you still have to go to the BIR office afterwards to get your TIN ID.
For those who have existing TIN, you still need to fill-up this form to change your status from employed to self-employed. Or if you're still working at the corporate world and freelancing at the same time, you can declare that you're a "mixed-income" earner.
Step 1b. Update your personal information (for those with existing TIN)
BIR Form 1905 - Application for Registration Information Update
If you are no longer employed and now working online as a freelancer, you have to update your personal information at the BIR such as changing your registered address and transfer your RDO (Regional District Office). You have to wait 5 working days before going to your new RDO and apply as a self-employed professional. In my case, waited 7 working days before going to my new RDO just to be sure.
You can also use this form if you lost your TIN card and other things you want to update. Just mark the appropriate boxes on Part II.
Step 2. Pay the annual registration fee for COR (Certificate of Registration)
BIR Form 0605 - Payment Form [3 copies]
The annual registration fee for COR is PhP 500. You need to pay for this every January. You can go to any AAB (Authorized Agent Banks) of your RDO to pay for this. Keep your copy of the payment form and the receipt from the bank and photocopy both, 3 copies each. You'll need it later.
Step 3. Get OTR (Occupational Tax Receipt)
Since online freelancers don't need DTI registration and mayor's permit, BIR will require you to get PTR (Professional Tax Receipt) or OTR (Occupational Tax Receipt) from your municipal or city hall. Since we don't have professional license, it is better to get an OTR instead. Also, it's much cheaper than PTR. I've got mine for PhP 200. Photocopy the OTR because you need to submit it to the BIR and the original is yours.
Step 4. Buy books of accounts
For online freelancers, we only need two books of accounts - Journal and Ledger. They are always available outside the BIR but they are more expensive than usual. So before going there, drop by at any bookstore to buy those books. I've got mine at National Bookstore for only PhP 22 each. You need to get it stamped and signed at the BIR.
Step 5. Submit the requirements
If you're done with steps 1 to 4, you are now ready to go and submit all of them at the BIR. You should have the following: Form 1901, 1905, 0605 with receipt from bank (original and photocopy), Occupational Tax Receipt (original and photocopy), photocopy of NSO birth certificate, photocopy of marriage certificate (if married), and your books of accounts.
Step 6. Attend the required seminar
After you submit all the forms and requirements, you need to attend the required seminar about filing taxes. The seminar is usually 1-2 hours long. This is also your chance to ask any questions and clarifications to the BIR officer in-charge of the lecture. On my RDO, it is scheduled every Thursday at 1:30pm. Just ask your RDO about the schedule of the seminar for the self-employed.
Step 7. Get your Certificate of Registration
Yehey! This is it! After the seminar, ask the BIR personnel when you can get your Certificate of Registration. Fortunately, I was able to get mine right after the seminar so I no longer have to go back at the BIR. You will be asked to buy a doc stamp for PhP 15 available inside BIR, and they will attach it to your COR. They also gave me a board with "Ask for Receipt" notice. I read stories from other freelancers that they were able to get their COR after several days.
Step 8. Print your receipts
BIR Form 1906 - Application for Authority to Print Receipts
and Invoices [2 copies]
After you get your COR, you are now ready to print your official receipt to BIR accredited printers. You need to submit the following to the printing press where you will have your receipts printed: form 1906, photocopy of your form 0605 with the receipt from the bank, and photocopy of your Certificate of Registration. The receipts are valid for 5 years. Price varies but it's usually around PhP 700 - PhP 1000 for 10 booklets. Ten booklets are enough but I've got 20 booklets because it is the required minimum purchase from the nearest printing press I've found.
There you have it! I hope that this guide can help you. Although the procedure seems exhausting, just be patient and you will finish it in no time. I will have a separate post about the taxes that Filipino freelancers need to pay, proper computation, and more! I'm so excited to share more information with you, so stay tuned! Happy taxpaying!