Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Thursday he is not amenable to proposals in Congress to tax-exempt the rewards and gifts given to weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and other potential winners in the current Olympic Games, saying everyone has a duty “to share in the cost of the provision of public goods to society.”
This was Dominguez’s reaction when asked by reporters to comment on the bills filed in the two houses of Congress to give tax exemption to the gifts and rewards given to Diaz for her unprecedented feat in the Olympics being held in Tokyo, Japan.
“No,” Dominguez replied. “ All Philippine citizens and residents have an obligation to share in the cost of the provision of public goods to society,” he explained.
Dominguez said the Bureau of Internal Revenue has already resolved that donations are subject only to 6 percent donor’s tax, payable by the donor.”
Diaz won the gold medal in weightlifting’s 55kg category for women earlier this week, the first gold medal for the Philippines since it joined the Games in 1932.
Reports said Diaz will receive at least P43.5 million cash and other rewards for her achievement that include P10 million from the government through Republic Act 10699 or the Natioånal Athletes and Coaches Benefits and IncentivesAct; P10 million pledged by San Miguel Corp. president and chief executive Ramon Ang; 10 million by business tycoon Manny Pangilinan through the MVP Sports Foundation; P3 million pledged by Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero of 1-PACMAN Party-list; P2.5 million cash incentive from her hometown, the local government of Zamboanga City.
Other gifts and rewards are P5 million cash and free fuel for life pledged by Siklab Atleta Sports Foundation head and Phoenix Petroleum chair Dennis Uy; P3 million house and lot in Zamboanga pledged by President Rodrigo Duterte; P14-million residential condominium unit in Eastwood, Quezon City from Megaworld; P4-million house and lot at any PHirst Park Homes community of her choice pledged by Century Properties; house and lot in Tagaytay from Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino; lifetime free flights from AirAsia Philippines, and 80,000 free miles per year for life from Philippine Airlines.
Diaz was also promoted from sergeant to staff sergeant at the Philippine Air Force. She will also be awarded a Presidential Medal of Merit.
The BIR, meanwhile, said the P10 million cash incentive for Olympic gold medal winners from the Philippine government mandated under Republic Act No. 10699, “shall be considered an exclusion from gross income by virtue of Section 32(B)(7)(d) of the Tax Code.”
On the other hand, donations to Olympic winners would be covered by a donor’s tax of 6 percent, payable by the donor.
On Thursday, Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo filed a bill to exempt from taxation millions in prizes that Diaz and other national athletes stand to receive from the government and private donors.
In House Bill 9888, Castelo said it is not clear in the existing law “if these prizes and donations are subject to taxes.”
“The law does not expressly exempt those prizes and donations given by third parties from donor’s taxes. It only exempts the awards and prizes gained by the athletes from the local and national competitions themselves, and not those given by third parties,” she said.
She said her bill “intends to expressly exempt all donations given by reason of local and international competitions from the payment of donor’s taxes, including those given by private entities.”
“The tax exemption would encourage the private sector to give bigger rewards to our national athletes,” she said.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, meanwhile, led the filing of a resolution in the House of Representatives commending and awarding the Congressional Medal of Excellence to Diaz for her historic gold medal win at the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
It would be the first time the legislative chamber will confer such an award, the creation of which is subject of a separate resolution filed by Velasco, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano.
Velasco said Diaz deserved “gratitude and recognition from every single Filipino” after clinching the very first Olympic gold medal for the Philippines.
“We thought an Olympic gold medal for the Philippines will never happen in our lifetime until it did, many thanks to Hidilyn Diaz!” Velasco said, echoing the sentiments of millions of Filipinos.
Also on Thursday, the Philippine Postal Corporation (Post Office), under the Office of the President, said it would release a stamp in honor of the extraordinary and historic achievement of Diaz.
“It is our mandate and protocol to immediately issue a stamp in honor of personalities who excelled in sports or any other arena,” Postmaster General Norman Fulgencio said.