SC ruling on TRAIN law shows judiciary respects Congress’ role — Salceda
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law shows that the judiciary respects Congress’ role in writing tax laws, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said on Friday.
Salceda, chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee on ways and means tackling taxation measures, said that the SC decision also strengthens his committee as they can move forward with specific bills without fear that the High Tribunal might strike them down.
SC said earlier that 13 justices concurred in saying that Republic Act No. 10963 or the TRAIN law was constitutional, contrary to what petitions against it state.
“The Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the TRAIN Law demonstrates the Court’s commitment to upholding its usual respect for the primacy of Congress in enacting tax legislation,” he said in a statement.
“The vote showed a near-total consensus among Justices that the Court will respect Congress’ long-established breadth of latitude over fiscal policy. That gives us a lot of room to improve tax policy, without fear of the Supreme Court striking these reforms down unjustly,” he added.
It could be remembered that former lawmakers in 2018 filed a petition against the law for being anti-poor as it imposed higher taxes on several basic commodities, including oil and fuel products.
The 2018 petition was filed by lawmakers from the 17th Congress’ Makabayan bloc — ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, and Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, as assisted by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).
READ: SC says TRAIN Act constitutional
But according to Salceda, there would be major repercussions if SC deemed the law unconstitutional, like the nullification of income tax deductions prescribed by TRAIN.
“If the law were voided, major increases in the take-home pay of average taxpayers would have been nullified – including the 5% or so increase in take home that workers received from the TRAIN law this 2023,” he said.
“Of course, we are committed to a progressive tax system. That said, this is a matter for Congressional debate, not a matter for courts to decide. And the ruling affirms this,” he added.
Salceda also claimed that his committee’s resolve was strengthened with the said decision.
“The ruling affirms that, indeed, Congress is where tax law is written. That strengthens the hand of the House Committee on Ways and Means to continue its policy reform and tax oversight efforts,” Salceda noted.
“Moving forward, we are committed to performing our duty of indeed evolving a system of taxation that is truly progressive – not only in the burden it imposes, but also the benefits of what it collects. And part of evolving a progressive system of taxation is ensuring that the burden actually gets imposed on the intended taxpayers. And that means fighting smuggling and tax evasion, which my Committee has done committedly,” he added.
Salceda’s committee was responsible for crafting both TRAIN 1 and TRAIN 2, its sequel, which progressive lawmakers deemed anti-poor also.
READ: House panel approves ‘in principle’ tax reform package ‘2 plus’
Salceda said the SC decision would allow his committee to also change focus from crafting laws to monitoring the implementation of tax reform measures.
“We are also committed to continuously monitoring and enhancing the implementation of tax reform measures. That is why my Committee has been holding hearings on agricultural, tobacco, and petroleum smuggling – to protect the revenue streams these hard-earned reforms have created,” Salceda said.
“I take very seriously the fact that these hearings are in aid of legislation, not to take the place of prosecution or law enforcement. So, while the hearings could name names, we will do so in the name of improving tax policy and enforcement. Not to harass anybody,” he added.
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