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Philippines To Move To Second Phase Of Tax Reform Plan

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

08 January 2018

The Philippines is to take forward its tax reform agenda in January, with a second package of proposals to be tabled before Congress, after the first package was endorsed with some vetoes by President Rodrigo Duterte.

"We are very pleased that the legislature passed the TRAIN bill. The President signed it into law although there are some provisions that he vetoed… We are moving forward with the implementation of the tax reform," Carlos Dominguez, the country's Finance Secretary, said during the recent inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Council meeting. "…We are going to submit to Congress the package two of the comprehensive tax reform plan in January 2018."

He said the Department of Finance scored its first major legislative victory for the Duterte administration and the Filipino people in 2017 with the approval and signing into law of the TRAIN Bill, which will provide income tax cuts for the majority of Filipino taxpayers. Dominguez said 99 percent of the country's population will benefit from the TRAIN BIll, with salaried employees and self-employed individuals earning a taxable income of PHP250,000 (USD4,980) per year exempted from paying the personal income tax (PIT). Other taxpayers in higher income brackets will also get to enjoy significant PIT cuts, except the ultra-rich or those earning PHP8m a year and above. Also, 13th month pay and other bonuses amounting to PHP90,000 a month are non-taxable.

The bill also expanded the value-added tax base, specifically by removing exemptions for cooperatives, low-cost housing, renewable energy, and for senior citizens except for medicine.

An amendment to the bill provided for a hike the coal tax from PHP10 per metric ton to PHP300 per metric ton. Senator Joel Villanueva, who sponsored the amendment, noted that coal tax rates had not been amended since 1988. In respect of the mining sector, the Senate also approved an amendment to increase the excise taxes on metallic and non-metallic mining resources from two percent to four percent.

The second stage of the reform process is expected to focus on improving the fairness of the tax regime and improving compliance rates, including through offering tax amnesties to enable taxpayers to regularize their affairs.

TAGS: individuals | compliance | Finance | tax | value added tax (VAT) | mining | energy | law | employees | Philippines | tax rates | tax reform | Other

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