Saturday, July 2, 2022

House Adopts Senate Version Of Poll Workers’ Tax Exemption Bill

House Adopts Senate Version Of Poll Workers’ Tax Exemption Bill

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The House of Representatives on Tuesday adopted the Senate version of a bill that seeks to exempt poll workers’ honoraria and other benefits from income tax.

During the plenary session, the House adopted Senate Bill 2530 as an amendment to House Bill 9652, thus allowing for the measure to be transmitted to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s signature.

The House adoption of the Senate version would no longer require the convening of a congressional bicameral conference committee.

The bill proposes to exempt from income taxation the honoraria, allowances, and other financial benefits granted by the Commission on Election to persons rendering service during an election period.

House Ways and Means Committee chair Joey Salceda said with just around PHP138.6 million in annualized revenue cost, it is “very reasonable” to make a few exemptions for poll workers “given the job well done”.

“This was the fastest national election count ever, and much of the credit for the smooth and relatively safe conduct of the polls belongs to the election workers,” he said.

He expressed hope that Duterte would “speedily act” on the matter so that there would be no need to withhold taxes anymore from the compensation.

“I think this will be on PRRD’s desk by this week. Thank you to our poll workers for your service and dedication,” Salceda said.

Senate Ways and Means Committee chairperson Pia Cayetano, for her part, said historically, election honoraria and allowances were not taxed.

Cayetano, however, pointed out that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) had ruled that such were compensation that should be subjected to tax and, consequently, to withholding tax.

She added that in the 2022 elections, the BIR issued another ruling that since election duties are not a practice of a teacher’s profession, the previous 5 percent professional fee withholding tax would no longer be applicable, thus, subjecting election honoraria and allowances to 20 percent withholding tax on compensation.

“With the imposition of the 20 percent withholding tax, they will only receive around PHP3,600 to PHP9,600 for the services they rendered during the 2022 elections,” she said.

She said this measure is a “small show of support to our teachers and non-teaching personnel” for the services they render, considering that elections are special circumstances that do not happen annually.

“Aside from performing the noble task of educating the youth, teachers also have an additional role during elections. They are called to man the polling precincts in order to protect the sanctity of every ballot and facilitate the conduct of peaceful and clean elections,” she said.

“Ang hiling ng ating mga guro at ng iba pang nagbibigay ng serbisyo tuwing eleksyon, huwag na silang buwisan dahil napakabigat na ng trabahong kanilang ginagampanan (The wish of our teachers and other people that rendered service every election is not to tax them because of the huge task they have to undertake),” she added. (PNA)

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