• Finance dept asked to shelve new taxes

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    The Department of Finance (DOF) should improve its tax collection instead of burdening the poor with new taxes on petroleum products and automotive vehicles, a lawmaker said.

    Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list group made the call on Monday during budget plenary deliberations of the DOF in the House of Representatives.

    Zarate noted that the Finance department’s plan to reduce value-added tax (VAT) exemptions and to increase excise taxes imposed on petroleum products and restructuring the excise tax on automobiles except for buses, trucks, cargo vans, jeeps, jeepney substitutes and special purpose vehicles to offset the revenue loss as a result of lowering the individual and corporate income taxes will burden the poor over the failure of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to collect proper amount of taxes.

    The two bureaus, both under the DOF’s jurisdiction, fell short of their tax collection targets for 2015.

    The BIR only raised P1.4 trillion of its P1.6 trillion target, while the BOC only collected P369 billion of its target of P436 billion.

    “Increasing the excise taxes on oil will mean P6 hike on diesel prices [per liter], and that will have a huge impact on our people. Why do we have to burden the poor when the BIR and the Customs are not meeting their tax collection target?” Zarate said.

    “Instead of increasing excise taxes on oil, the DOF should first collect the uncollected revenues. And why do we even have to reduce corporate income taxes when these corporations already doubled their income under current rates?” he added.

    Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte, who sponsored the DOF budget in the plenary, argued that the DOF is already reviewing the tax collection targets of the BIR and the BOC to make them more realistic.

    “The previous targets were more aspirational. They are really very high so they are working on it to make them attainable,” Villafuerte said.

    He added that the government will grant a P500 monthly subsidy to families enrolled under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program to cushion the impact of new taxes.

    There are 4.4 million families enrolled under the CCT Program.

    The CCT beneficiaries secure their cash incentive provided that they comply with the following conditions: Children should be present in school 85 percent of the time and family members should undergo regular medical check-up and attend family development sessions, among others.

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