House OKs tax reforms

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  • Voting 246-9-1, the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on third and final reading the Duterte administration’s tax reform package that imposes additional taxes on fuel, sugar, motor vehicles and even lottery winnings.

    Oppositors to the measure dismissed House Bill 5636, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), as a “repressive” measure even if it also seeks to lower personal income taxes.

    The bill, in plenary session, approved the bill on second reading, and on third and final reading after Palace certified the measure as urgent.

    The bill’s principal author, Quirino Rep. Dakila Cua, House committee on ways and means committee chairperson, said the additional taxes were intended to offset the revenue losses to the government.

    The bill imposes a P10 per liter tax on sugar-sweetened beverages subject to yearly four-percent rate increase after effectivity date of Jan. 1, 2018.

    The proposed P6 a liter to increase oil excise tax shall be divided into three tranches of P3, P2 and P1 in the first three years which the Department of Finance believes will lighten the load for the public.

    But Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate said that once the bill is enacted into law, the price of diesel which is at P31 per liter would reach P34 next year, P36 in 2019 and P37 in 2020 while gasoline, which is P45 per liter, would be P52 next year.

    Liquefied Petroleum Gas, which is P541 per tank now, would be P574 next year, then P596 and P607,  Zarate said.

    The Cua bill also imposes a 20- percent tax on final cash winnings from lotto and sweepstakes lottery conducted by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

    Starting January 2019, brand new vehicles will be imposed the following excise taxes: Three percent for automobiles sold at P600,000 or below; P18,000 plus 30 percent in excess of P600,000 for automobiles costing above P600,000 to P1.1 million; P168,000 plus 50 percent in excess of P1.1 million for automobiles costing over P1.1 million to P2.1 million; P668,000 plus 80 percent in excess of P2.1 million for automobiles costing over P2.1 million to P3.1 million and P1,468,000 plus 90 percent in excess of P3.1 milliion for automobiles costing over P3.1 million.

    The approved final version of the bill took out the provision lifting the exemptions of small and medium cooperatives from paying value-added tax.

    HB 5636 also provides that workers earning P250,000 and below for the years 2018 and 2019 shall be exempted from paying personal income taxes (PITs).

    The bill likewise provides that tax on self-employed and or professionals enjoying gross sales or gross receipts shall pay eight-percent income tax in excess of P250,000 gross income.

    From the present P82,000, the bill raised the tax exemption for 13th month pay to P100,000, including other cash benefits.

    It also lowers the rates of estate and donor’s taxes by imposing unitary tax rate of six percent.

    He said he finds no reason to “act immediately” on the tax reform proposals because “there is no fiscal crisis today.”

    Under the Constitution, all revenue measures must first be approved by the House of Representatives before it is tackled by the Senate.

    Once the House passed it, Recto said then it is up to the Senate now to consider the proposal. He pointed out there are many contentious issues in the tax reform package which should be clarified.(M.Cruz, M.R. Araneta. Ms)

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