• ‘VAT exemption for elderly non-negotiable’

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    THE government should not touch the 12 percent Value Added Tax exemption for senior citizens, a lawmaker said over the weekend.

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    “Our senior citizens need more benefits, not less. Any proposal to increase the VAT should be studied carefully, but the existing exemption for senior citizens should be non-negotiable,” Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, a former television reporter, stressed.

    She issued the statement in light of reports that the Duterte Administration plans to broaden the tax base to compensate for the government’s revenue loss resulting from the lowering of individual income and corporate income taxes by removing the VAT exemption for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

    Aragones said the tax exemptions for the elderly will complement her proposed P2,000 across-the-board increase on Social Security System pension—a measure that was rejected by the previous Aquino administration.

    “For senior citizens living off their pensions, exempting them from VAT is one way the State can support them in the twilight of their lives,” Aragones, who heads the House Committee on Population and Family Relations, pointed out.

    House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez of Quezon and House Deputy Minority Leader Jose “Lito” Atienza earlier thumbed down the proposed removal of VAT exemption for the elderly and disabled.

    Aragones has also filed House Bill 1859 or the Senior Vision Services Act of 2016 which seeks to establish a National Senior Vision Services Program that will provide comprehensive services to elderly persons who suffer from functional visual impairments.

    The services under the program will include client assessment; information and referral for health care services; client and family counseling and education.

    Under her proposal, the elderly can avail of the program if they suffer from a visual impairment that substantially interferes with their ability to perform daily tasks even if they are not regarded as “legally blind.”

    “Visually impaired older people are more prone to falls, burns, bouts of depression, and are more likely to need assistance with activities of daily living. By intervening in a timely fashion and linking senior citizens to appropriate services, the State can assist in maintaining the health, welfare, and quality of life of our elderly,” Aragones said.

    “Filipinos are known for taking care of their elderly, and this bill is consistent with this time-honored Filipino trait,” she added.

    Llanesca T. Panti

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