Bicam panel adopts 5 tax reform provisions

Senator Sonny Angara

The congressional bicameral conference committee has agreed on at least five provisions of the tax reform package, including tax exemptions for all workers earning less than P250,000 a year, and VAT-free leases on housing units below P15,000 a month and condominium dues.

Bicameral conference committee members from the Senate and the House of Representatives met on Friday to reconcile differences in each chamber’s version of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) bill.

“The P250,000 income tax exemption is close to becoming a reality because both chambers of Congress agreed on the provision,” said Sen. Sonny Angara, chair of the Senate committee on ways and means, on Saturday.

Angara also disclosed that the bicameral committee had earlier agreed that those with an annual income of more than P8 million would pay P2.41 million plus 35 percent of the excess of P8 million. The committee also retained the provision exempting minimum wage earners from paying taxes.

The other provisions adopted by the two chambers were the two-page income tax returns for easier compliance, P5-million standard deduction on estates and additional P10 million on family homes.

The committee deferred decision on whether to make mandatory or give self-employed individuals and professionals the option to pay the flat 8-percent tax, and to exempt the sale of houses outside Metro Manila worth a maximum of P2 million.

The other provisions that would be decided later included the quarterly or monthly filing of VAT and percentage tax; the P82,000 or P100,000 tax exemption for 13th month pay and other bonuses; one- or two-tranch income tax regime, and 15-percent foreign currency deposit unit and capital gains for nonlisted shares.

The Senate approved its version of the tax reform package on Tuesday, voting 17-1, with Sen. Risa Hontiveros as the lone dissenter.

Angara had earlier stated that the measure was expected to generate P100 billion to P130 billion in revenue for the government, and that about 6.8 million of the country’s 7.5 million individual income taxpayers would be exempt from paying income taxes starting January.

But Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the tax bill, although benefiting 5 million people from the reduction in personal income tax, would hit about 95 million others with consumer taxes.

Contentious provisions such as the excise tax on petroleum, coal and sweetened beverages would be tackled last by the bicameral committee, Angara  said.


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