Tiny Living and Money Matters

Freelance Tax: When you can’t get an OTR

I’ve been wanting to blog about my tax experience for a while now but I did not want to overstep my boundaries; after all, I would not have been able to register without the help of other people, especially Donna Donor whose blog, Register as a freelancer! My experience in registering at BIR, was the guide I mostly used in the process. Most of the hard work had been jotted down for me to follow, instead of me having to feel my way blindly through the process.

Update: Donna Donor’s blog is no longer existent, so if you are looking for the steps, you can check Levy Martinez’s blog, Self Employed/ Freelancer: How to register with BIR.

For years, I’ve contemplated on registering as a freelancer but I’ve heard so many horror stories about it, and perhaps because I’ve had a handful of bad experiences with some government employees in the 90’s that I was too afraid to go through with it. But last year, I felt brave enough to finally do it.


I’ve been trying to find accountants who would teach me how to do it, but I can’t seem to find anyone who would. They all say they don’t know how to handle a freelancer’s tax, so I started asking fellow freelancers whom I know have been filing their taxes.

That’s when Donna mentioned that she has a blog about it and I saw that it had all the information I needed, from the requirements I needed to prepare to the steps I had to  take. It really made my registration process so much smoother than I anticipated.

Since my TIN number was originally registered in Las Pinas, I had to go to the RDO there to request the transfer to the RDO assigned for our location. I don’t remember how long it took for the transfer, but it took me another week to visit the city hall to secure an OTR (Occupational Tax Receipt) which I should include with other documents (birth certificate, proof of income, baranggay clearance, my kids’ birth certificates and my marriage certificate) required to register. Professionals who do not have licenses must have an OTR in order to register as freelancers.

That’s where I hit a dead end. When I went to the city hall, the man at the window told me that they do not issue OTRs. They only issue PTRs (Professional Tax Receipt) which is only applicable for doctors and lawyers, but not for freelancers like me. Another city hall staff suggested that I try getting an OTR in Mandaluyong, but I didn’t want to do that.

For a minute, I was stumped. I was determined to register in 2020 so I had to think. I decided to go to my RDO and ask them what I could do in absence of an OTR. I brought all my documents and blank cash books with me and handed them over to the BIR assessor and told him my case.

As it turned out, it was all I needed to do! The assessor went through my documents, asked me a few questions, checked my cash books and told me to fill out the top fields in them so he can put the BIR stamp on them and sign them, then instructed me to pay for my registration and bring him back the receipt.

He categorised me under 9309 Other Service Activities and explained to me how it works. My tax would be an automatic 3% deduction in all of my earnings, which later on I learned, also disqualifies me from deducting any of my expenses from my tax except for the basic expenses allowed by the BIR. I’m okay with that for now, I’m still learning how to file my quarterly and annual taxes properly, in fact, I need to take one more trip to the RDO this month to file my late 3rd quarter tax and pay the corresponding penalties. I’ll learn to apply the changes I need as I go along.

I had to follow up for about 3-4 weeks before my COR (Certificate of Registration) was ready for pick up, and when I went to get it, I celebrated with my husband. It feels so good to finally be able to register!

There are many reasons why I wanted to register as a freelancer. I’ve been told that it will prove useful if we ever take out a loan in the future, and it will help if we want to apply for travel VISAs, too.

But most of all, I just wanted to be a good citizen and do my part. I want to be considered legitimate and work with brands and clients the right way. I want to be able to issue receipts when necessary, and do business in peace.  I don’t want to evade this civic obligation and I believe that God will honour my heart in doing so.

“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” Romans 13:7.


  • Donna

    It’s worth learning the process di ba?! Even if we have different experiences, but basically, it’s the same.

    Congratulations on surviving your forst year of registering as a freelancer! The following years will be already easy-peasy

    • May De Jesus-Palacpac

      Will look into it. I tried to use another online service last year, but I couldn’t get through the functions. EBIR was easier, though confusing.

  • Mary Vieme R. Bautista

    Hello there! This is my first time on your blog because I’m a first-time mom but still pregnant. I’ve been looking for mom blogs to learn more about parenting. And yours pop-out on my email subscription. 🙂 I’m CPA and employed, and considering practicing my profession since I want to take care of my firstborn. I’ve been a career woman all along but now I think I am being called to be a mother. <3 But of course, I need to support my finances. Haha. Anyway, I can offer my services if you want to lift the hassle in your tax filing. Just let me know. Btw, good job on being a good citizen of our country!

  • Hazel

    Wow that’s great! Filing taxes on your own could be burdensome. Congrats on being a good citizen of this country. More freelance work for you hopefully ?

    • May De Jesus-Palacpac

      I actually registered as a freelance writer and blogger. This way, I can do business through my blog legitimately.

  • Vee Peñero

    PERFECTLY-TIMED! I’d been wondering how to get my affairs in order since becoming a Freelance but like you, all I ever heard about it was “don’t do it” or that there were so many bad things about it. (Reading through other comments here and I’m glad there’s a company that will help you do this all for a fee.) Makes me think I should go and register as well… But this article was is really helpful (especially since I like to travel and stuff). Thank you!

    • May De Jesus-Palacpac

      You’re going to need the receipts for when you start working with brands that would require them for you to collect your pay. The ones that pay well will ask for receipts.

    • may palacpac

      Just to be clear, freelance is applicable to us, bloggers, too. This is what I’m hoping for. To work with more brands much more easily as I can supply a receipt when they ask for it.

  • Janella Herrera

    Congratulations! I am still in college but I have started applying for identification cards. Right now, I really plan on being registered kasi I also earn as a freelancer. Thank you for the guide. 🙂

  • WanderWoMom

    Thabk you for sharing this momma. I was thinking of filing last 2019. But realized hindi pa yata kaya ng budget ko since i dont earn a lot pa naman monthly. But definitely once i do earn so much like me target ako na earning, agad agad ako mag apply for freelancer tax . Ill definitely keep your blog in mind.

    • May De Jesus-Palacpac

      Your tax will be calculated based on your earnings. It’s not that big, honestly, bloggers are usually put in the same category. Let’s say you earned PH 2,5K for a project, that’s just PHP 75 tax.

      • Dadzilla

        Hello! Quick question… When you pay for your tax quarterly, do you still have to pay an annual tax? Besides the process of filing to be a freelancer, the part that really confuses me is when we pay the actual tax themselves.

        • May De Jesus-Palacpac

          Hi! Sorry, I just saw this. Yes, you still need to file your annual tax, but you will also input in the form the taxes you’ve already paid for, so that will already be deducted from what you’ll be paying for.

  • Blair Villanueva

    We should advocate paying taxes because that is where the government gets the income to fund all the nation’s welfare such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, etc. If we keep on avoiding taxes, then we should not have the guts to complain about how poor the government’s services and facilities are., and just pay out-of-pocket for your needs.

  • hyejin

    Congratulations to you! It might be challenging but thank you for being a good citizen of the Philippines. Here in Korea, ang taas ng percentage ng tax. I had a shop before and my tax was calculated based on my sales and not from my profit and it was like 16% so I stopped my business.

    • May De Jesus-Palacpac

      It’s the same here, actually. It’s based on gross profit. But only 3%, and there is the TRAIN LAW so you can apply for 8% flat tax for income generated over 250K

  • Rowena

    Planning na magfreelancer since I want to spend more time with my baby and parang ang risky parin to go out. Have some issues din with bir personel before when I’m fixing my bir. Sorbrang nakakapang init ng ulo hahahhaa. Pero glad that i saw this.
    This will serve as my guide pag nag pursue na ko mag freelance.

  • Marianne Guisic, CPA

    If you are still interested in getting an Occupational Tax Receipt, BIR Registration, and updating your registrations, feel free to reach out to us.

  • Katherine Diabordo

    Wow this is very helpful! I was looking for a blog/article how to get OTR. In our city in Valenzuela, I found out that they don’t issue OTR as well 😔 Is this really required when getting COR? What should I do if I don’t have one? Hope you can read and reply to my comment. Thanks in advance!

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