The burden of paying taxes becomes heavier for Filipinos with the country’s rapid inflation. Unfortunately, the enactment of Tax Reform for Inclusion and Acceleration imposed higher excise taxes on several goods, the cost of which was passed on to the consumers, that resulted to higher prices of basic commodities. A higher rate of inflation ensued.
The Bureau of Treasury reported that the total revenue collection reached P1.41 trillion in the first half of 2018. This was reportedly 9 percent higher than the target. Possibly, the increased collection was due to the implementation of the first package of TRAIN. But as we see it, TRAIN only worsens the condition of our economy.
Prior to the enactment of TRAIN, I filed House Bill No. 3832, otherwise known as, “An Act Granting Tax Amnesty on All Unpaid Internal Revenue Tax Liabilities for Taxable Period January 2006 to June 2016.”
The Executive branch has been pushing for the speedy passage of the package 2 of TRAIN; but for me, instead of hurrying its passage, the Congress should consider prioritizing the passage of the Tax Amnesty Bill.
The new Tax Amnesty Bill, when enacted, will provide a clean slate for delinquent taxpayers and will encourage all taxpayers especially low-income and middle-income earners, professionals, and even Overseas Filipino Workers to avail of this program and register to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. In effect, this will improve taxpayers’ compliance to national tax policies, increase revenue collection, and reduce corruption.
We know that we have a tough President who has a strong stance against corruption. But the sad reality is that corruption has become a culture in the BIR. Corruption in the BIR happens, for example, when taxpayers try to negotiate with BIR officials to reduce taxes due, extend payment period, or adhere to special arrangements, instead of going through the right process, which, if contested, may involve long and expensive litigation.
This tax amnesty is not new to us. In Feb. 19, 2007, Republic Act 9480, which provided for a tax amnesty, was enacted. This covered the year 2005 and prior years. The BIR reported that the tax amnesty was effective in terms of added revenue for the government, as it generated Php 5.902 billion, which accounted for 2 percent of the total income taxes collected. It also increased the number of registered taxpayers by 20,629.
As the Minority Leader who is responsible of ensuring checks and balances in the Congress, I would insist on the passage of the Tax Amnesty Bill. It would be best to give Filipino taxpayers another chance to settle their tax obligations and give them an opportunity to have a clean slate once again. Delayed and reduced collection is still a much better alternative to no collection at all.