Freelancers will soon be given the chance to settle tax liabilities to be able to begin anew with better legal protections under the substitute bill of the proposed Freelancers Protection Act, whose tax provisions were approved by a committee of the House of Representatives.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means and author of the substituted House Bill 1527.
“My bill wants to ensure that there are legal rights, protections, and benefits to the more than 2 million freelance workers in the country.
We saw the need to help them start afresh with their tax liabilities, so that they will be able to begin under new contracts with clean tax records,” Salceda said.
“That’s why the tax amnesty provisions are important. They will help us recover uncollected revenues, while also helping freelancers steer clear of any pending tax liabilities that could prevent them from having better contracts once this bill is passed,” Salceda added.
The amnesty will cover income taxes under Section 24 of the Tax Code, for freelancers earning less than P1 million a year. The applicable rate will be 2% of gross receipts above the first P250,000.
Salceda said he will manifest an amendment to include the percentage tax for value added tax exempt persons, which he says is more relevant to freelancers, while defining which paragraphs under Section 24 will be applicable.
Among the protections that the proposed substitute bill will include are a framework for contracts between employers and freelancers; eligibility for nightshift differential for freelancers who are required to be physically present in the workplace or those on field assignments; and hazard pay for freelancers deployed in dangerous areas
The proposal also makes it unlawful to pay the compensation due the freelancer later than fifteen (15) days after the date of payment of compensation stated in the written contract or after the rendition of services in cases where there is no written contract and require as a condition of payment of compensation, at any time after a freelancer has commenced rendition of services, that a freelancer accept less than the specified contract price; and retaliate against a freelancer under certain conditions.
“Freelancing has become the lifeline for millions of Filipinos, especially those who lost their regular jobs during the pandemic. As the economy becomes more digital, there will be more freelancing.
Without legal protections, we will also see more labor exploitation,” Salceda said.
Salceda added he foresees many industries, including business process outsourcing (BPO), moving towards freelancing in the coming years.
“Freelancing will be the natural consequence of the shift towards working from home. We have to protect workers in this sector now, while the potential problems are still on a scale we can solve,” Salceda said.