Belmonte says no more time to pass bill lowering income taxes

By Cielito M. Reganit

MANILA, Oct. 1 (PNA) -– House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Thursday said that the proposed bill lowering income taxes has no chance of being passed during the remaining months of the 16th Congress because of lack of sufficient time and urged lawmakers not to rush its passage for political expediency.

Belmonte said that although he personally wants to have a law that would overhaul the current tax system imposed on fixed income earners, he stressed that such measures should not be rushed.

“If we have to pass a law lowering income taxes, we have to do it in a rational way. We must not let it become an election-linked decision,” he said during a press briefing in his office at the House of Representatives.

House Bill No. 4829 or the Tax Reform for Inclusive Growth (TRIGR) Bill authored by Marikina Representative Romero Federico Quimbo, along with several other co-authors, seeks to lower individual and corporate income tax rates and have the tax brackets revised.

The bill is still in the House Committee on Ways and Means, which is headed by Quimbo.

Under the pending measure, the country will have four income tax brackets.

Those earning Php 180,000 and below annually are exempted from paying taxes, while those who annually earn from Php 180,000 to Php 500,000 would pay nine percent.

Individuals whose yearly income is from Php 500,000 to Php 10 million would pay 17 percent, while those with more than Php 10 million annual income will have to pay 30 percent.

The Department of Finance (DOF) has rejected the idea and pegged the projected government revenue loss from the lowered income tax rates at Php 29 billion.

In response, the DOF submitted to Congress the government’s tax reform bill, which includes an all-in income tax exemption to all wage earners with an annual income of less than Php 1 million.

There has been a growing clamor among lawmakers in both Chambers of Congress urging Malacañang to prioritize the tax reform bill.

However, Belmonte said that realistically, Congress would not have sufficient time left to deliberate the proposed bill as the 16th Congress has few session days left in its calendar before the election period sets in.

“The priority at the moment is the passage of the 2016 National Budget, the Bangsamoro Basic Law and other game-changing bills that are already on the verge of being passed,” he said.

The House Speaker said while the growing support for the tax reform bill is a very welcome development, he said that it would be better if its passage be left to the next administration.

“The need to reform the income tax system has already been emphasized. Let’s just allow the next administration to make the tax reform bill it first priority bill and let it reap the rewards of its passage,” Belmonte said. (PNA)