Senators have approved a bill that would exempt election period service honoraria and allowances from income tax.
Voting 17-0-0, the Senate approved Senate Bill 2520 or the Act Exempting from Income Taxation the Honoraria, Allowances, and Other Financial Benefits of Persons Rendering Service During an Election Period on its third and final reading.
SB 2520 seeks to amend Section 32(B)(7) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.
Meanwhile, House Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro urged both houses of Congress to swiftly pass SB 2520 on its third and final reading and agree on the Senate version of the bill to be able to put the bill on the President’s table for signature.
“Congress is nearing its sine die adjournment. It only has 3 session days left for the Senate to pass SB 2520 on the third and final reading. SB 2520 is the counterpart bill of HB 9652, which we filed and was approved on third reading by the HOR last August 23, 2021,” Castro said.
Senate Ways and Means Committee chairperson Pia Cayetano said chairpersons of the Electoral Boards and poll clerks also received an additional P1,000 to P2,000 travel allowance for training.
Election workers, depending on their position (chairperson, Electoral Board Members, Technical Support Staff, etc.) should receive a gross compensation of P4,500 to P12,000.
With the imposition of a 20-percent withholding tax, they will only receive around P3,600 to P9,600 for the services they rendered during the 2022 elections.
“Historically, election honoraria and allowances were not taxed. But the BIR had ruled that such compensation should be subjected to tax and, consequently, to withholding tax,” Cayetano, in a GMA News report, said.
“This measure is a small show of support to our teachers and non-teaching personnel for the services they render, considering that elections are special circumstances that do not happen annually,” she said.
Earlier, several groups of teachers have been appealing to the government as well as the Commission on Elections to exempt their election service honoraria from taxation.
Cayetano is also calling for the immediate passage of the bill that exempts the election emoluments of teachers from taxes.
Castro also asked President Duterte to immediately sign into law when the enrolled bill reaches his office.
“We also urge President Duterte to treat this bill with urgency and immediately sign the bill once transmitted from Congress to ensure that the tax-exemption bill for the honorarium of poll workers gets passed into law before he steps down,” Castro added.
Castro, one of the principal authors of the bill, said the measure “is a product of many consultations from our teachers whose honorarium for their services have suffered cuts for additional tax.”
She said allowances received by election service volunteer workers are mere reimbursements for the expenses incurred by poll workers.
“Teachers deserve to receive the full amount of the honorarium after undertaking their high-risk job as poll workers. They are required to attend training, deliver the election paraphernalia to and from COMELEC offices and precincts, and perform other election-related tasks,” Castro added.
“It is only under the Duterte administration that even travel allowance and poll workers’ honorarium are not safe from taxation.”