The University of the Philippines System recently issued a memo that all contractual staff have to be registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) as “professionals” and provide UP with official receipts for services rendered. Unfortunately, project-based research assistants are included in this category. MSI was nice enough to bring in a Certified Public Accountant to give a short talk/lecture about what the new memo means and how to go about the registration process and the additional tax forms we have to submit. That was the first time I’d seen an entire auditorium of MS and PhD students and graduates dumbfounded and confused. I’ve already started the registration process because of my freelance science writing gigs for GMA News Online, which started requiring ORs just last July, so I’m in a better position compared to the other RAs who are just doing it now. I hope this little blog post can help my fellow researchers navigate the murky waters of registering as a professional and what that means for taxes.
Note: This post is not a discussion about whether requiring RAs to provide UP with ORs is right or fair, but for the record, we work for unremarkable salaries, no benefits, no paid leaves, and no healthcare. The visiting CPA fielded a ton of questions about what registration means for ongoing contracts (those with ongoing contracts are essentially f*cked) and the additional tax filings (more on that later).