Senate rushes to approve tax reform bill

  • The Senate rushed to approve the proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill – certified by President Duterte as urgent – that is expected to generate as much as PHP130bn in fresh revenues with higher taxes imposed on fuel, coal and sugar-sweetened beverages, among others.
  • The certification from Malacañang allowed the measure to be passed on second reading, and then on third and final reading in one session amid lingering opposition to some of its provisions by several majority and opposition senators who said the measure could lead to higher prices of certain commodities and services.
  • Sen. Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee that drafted the tax bill, told reporters that 60% of the expected proceeds will go to flagship infrastructure projects; 27% to social mitigating programs, including the unconditional cash transfer of PHP300 per month for three years to the poorest 10 million Filipino families; and 13% to the Armed Forces for its modernization programs.
  • “There were amendments but the (expected) proceeds is close to the DOF (Department of Finance)’s target,” Angara said of the first TRAIN package that is expected to raise PHP100bn on the low end.
  • Malacañang wants to have the measure signed into law before the end of 2017 and implement it by early 2018.
  • But Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the real battle would be in the bicameral conference committee when the Senate and the House of Representatives will reconcile the disagreeing provisions of their respective versions of TRAIN, particularly on the tax on petroleum products and sweetened beverages.
  • For self-employed and professionals, the Senate introduced an 8% flat tax in lieu of income tax and percentage tax to be filed once a year on gross sales or receipts.
  • The chamber also approved the amendment pushed by Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto that the filing of VAT and percentage tax returns are made quarterly and simplifying the income tax returns by shortening the forms to only two pages.
  • Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said the TRAIN bill also included provisions, particularly those on value-added tax, to shield workers from additional taxes.

External Link :