The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading a bill extending estate tax amnesty.
The chamber voted to approve House Bill 7068 by an overwhelming 209 votes.
The bill extends the availment period of the estate tax amnesty from two years to four years as a way of economic relief for Filipinos in this time of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID).
It amends Republic Act 11213 or the Tax Amnesty Act of 2019 to provide aid for Filipinos during the pandemic that led to unemployment, bankruptcies, and stalled economic activities.
This developed as the bill's principal authors, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and wife, Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez of Tingog party-list group, and Deputy Majority Leader and Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter Palma II thanked their colleagues for supporting the bill's passage.
“We thank our colleagues for supporting the passage of this very important measure. While the COVID-19 pandemic still persists, people will have extreme difficulty in paying their taxes much more in settling their estate tax dues even with this tax amnesty program,” they said.
According to them, amending RA 11213 will enable those who want to take advantage of the program to have ample time to recoup their resources and get back on their feet so they can still apply and pay their estate tax dues.
They said this is the reason why everyone who has outstanding estate tax liabilities as of December 31, 2017 “is encouraged to take advantage of this excellent and rare opportunity offered by the government.”
"It's just unfortunate that the Philippines is not spared from the ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein many people lost their jobs and folded up their businesses. Most economic activities were stalled. The people lost precious period of time and possible sources of income in order to avail of this tax amnesty program of the government," they noted.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chair of the House committee on ways and means who sponsored HB 7068 under Committee Report No. 455, said the proposal will allow the transfer of long unsettled estates so these can be productive.
“The original deadline of availment and payment on April 23, 2020 has since been extended four times, with the new deadline set until December 31, 2020, however, only 23,911 persons have availed of the amnesty, earning only P1.362 billion out of the potential P6billion-plus. Thus, it is apt that we extend it through legislation,” Salceda said.
“Estate tax amnesty extension, as far as it releases land for productive use and raises revenues for the government, should be considered a stimulus bill. The extension of the estate tax amnesty acknowledges the plain reality that it has become very difficult to process papers because of COVID-19. We thank the House leadership for its support for this measure,” Salceda added.
RA 11213 was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte last February 14, 2019.
Under the law, the government provides the taxpayers a one-time opportunity to settle estate tax obligations through an estate tax amnesty program that gives reasonable tax relief to estates with outstanding estate tax liabilities.
The law provides that taxpayers who avail of the estate tax amnesty enjoy immunity from the payment of estate taxes, civil, criminal, and administrative cases and penalties.
Failure to avail of the estate tax amnesty means that previously suspended late estate tax penalties will be applicable, and the costs to transfer estates will be very costly.
The estate tax amnesty covers the estate of decedents who died on or before December 31, 2017, with or without assessments duly issued therefor, whose estate taxes have remained unpaid or have accrued as of December 31, 2017.
Under the law, the executor or administrator of the estate, or if there is executor or administrator appointed, the legal heirs, transferees or beneficiaries, who wish to avail of the estate tax amnesty shall do so within two years from the effectivity of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 11213.