Philippine tax reform fills Duterte's infrastructure war chest


Philippine tax reform fills Duterte's infrastructure war chest

Among the provisions that were not originally proposed by the DOF, but inserted in the final TRAIN bill, include the increase in excise taxes on coal, minerals, tobacco, and the introduction of a cosmetic levy.

CONGRESS has ratified the Tax Reform and Acceleration Inclusion (TRAIN) bill before it adjourned its session for a month-long holiday break but not without controversy as members of the House of Representatives claimed that a lack of quorum during the voting nullified the ratification.

The administration plans to implement the new law by January next year, he said.

The approved TRAIN version also proposes to double the tax rates for all nonmetallic minerals and quarry resources, and metallic minerals, including copper, gold and chromite to 4 percent.

The package also raises coal excise tax from PHP10 to per metric ton to PHP50 per metric ton in the first year of implementation; PHP100 in the second year, and PHP150 in the third and following years.

By the time the TRAIN bicam report reached the House, only a handful of representatives were physically present at the session hall.

Besides the revenue enhancing measures of adjusting the excise taxes on fuel and automobiles and broadening the value-added tax base, the final ratified version also includes tax administration reforms such as a mandatory fuel marking and monitoring program and, a system that would enable the Bureau of Internal Revenue to check real time the financial submission of large taxpayers. It also raised to P90,000 the tax exemption for 13th month pay and other bonuses received by salaried workers.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said TRAIN, together with the complementary measures to be passed early in 2018 will yield more than 120 billion pesos (2.38 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue.

Lawmakers said 70 per cent of the revenue that would be generated from the tax measure would go to infrastructure, while the rest would be used for social services.

Those who voted in favor of TRAIN were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Franklin Drilon, JV Ejercito, Francis Escudero, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Gringo Honasan, Loren Legarda, Grace Poe, Ralph Recto, Vicente Sotto, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar, and Miguel Zubiri. "This is the product of the deliberation between the House and the Senate, and the fact there was a shortfall in the Senate version they began to cherry pick on where they feel they could bring it up", said Jose Pardo, PSE chairman. 63 of the House on Conference Committee Reports, which states that: "xxx A conference committee report shall be ratified by a majority vote of the Members of the House present, there being a quorum".

Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, who represented the House contingent in the Bicameral panel, said the House representatives have maintained a rejection of any hike on taxes imposed on coal.

For diesel fuel, a PHP2.50 tax would be imposed starting 2018, PHP4.50 in 2019, and PHP6 in 2020.

The ratified report will be transmitted to Malacanang for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.

But senators maintained that the government stands to lose P5 billion if the local coal industry continues to enjoy the excise tax exemption it had been enjoying since 1976, or the past 41 years.

"We're now ready for the TRAIN to leave the station", Dominguez told reporters after the bicameral committee approved its consolidated version of the tax package.

Disgusted that the Bicam committee finally agreed to cut the proposed P300 excise tax imposition by 50 percent, Suarez did not sign the report, dramatizing an apparent protest.

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