THE Senate has ratified two measures granting tax breaks to persons with disabilities (PWDs) and their relatives and local water districts hours after the bicameral conference committee approved the reports.
With the ratification of the bicameral conference reports, the measures will be transmitted to President Benigno Aquino 3rd for his possible signing before the end of the year.
The proposed law on PWDs seeks to exempt over 1.4 million differently-abled Filipinos from paying the mandatory 12 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services.
Authored by Senate President pro-tempore Ralph Recto, the bill also provides an additional annual income tax exemption of P25,000 to the relatives caring for PWDs who are incapable of supporting themselves regardless of their age.
“So a brother caring for an autistic sibling, or a child who is taking care of a parent who has gone blind, can claim the tax deductible amount of P25,000,” Recto said in a statement.
The proposed tax breaks for the handicapped are similar to the privileges granted to senior citizens under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
RA 7277, also known as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, provides a 20 percent discount for PWDs on the sale of goods and services such as medicines, medical and dental services, hospital and laboratory fees, local transport fares, restaurants, hotels, theaters and educational assistance.
Under the ratified report, PWDs will also get similar discounts on funeral services and burial expenses.
Of the total number of disabled in the country, only 28,344 are registered based on the 2014 data from the Philippine Registry for Persons with Disability of the Department of Health (DOH) according to Senator Sonny Angara, the chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means and the sponsor of the Senate version.
The Senate also ratified the bicameral committee report that seeks to grant tax exemptions to local water districts.
There are 514 local water districts serving 19 million residents across the country.
Angara said LWDs, like other public utilities such as the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and the National Power Corporation (Napocor), are exempted from paying taxes under Republic Act 10026, or “an Act Granting Income Tax Exemptions to Local Water Districts,” which was enacted in 2010.
However, the intention of the law was defeated because of the failure of the Bureau of Internal Revenue to issue the revenue regulations to implement RA10026. Instead, the bureau came up with rules on condonation.
Angara noted that not a single application for condonation of the 78 LWDs was acted upon by the BIR.
The measure seeks to address the issue by removing the conditions for the condonation of unpaid income taxes due to LWDs.