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Government eyes tax amnesty program in 2018

During the Philippine Economic Society’s annual meeting yesterday, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the government is serious in its crackdown against tax evaders to be able to implement a tax amnesty scheme. Krizjohn Rosales, File

MANILA, Philippines — The government may implement next year a tax amnesty program aimed at improving taxpayer compliance and boosting government revenue, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said yesterday.

During the Philippine Economic Society’s annual meeting yesterday, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the government is serious in its crackdown against tax evaders to be able to implement a tax amnesty scheme.

“I think this is the best time to have an (tax) amnesty, now that we have established our credibility to run after those who have evaded (paying taxes),” Diokno said.

According to Diokno, the government has proven in various cases that it can run after tax evaders.

He cited the cases of cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. (which settled P25 billion in tax liabilities), Sunvar Realty Development Corp. (which previously occupied the Mile Long commercial property in Makati) and PAL (which recently settled P6 billion in navigational fees and other charges).

“We already had many cases, such as that with Lucio Tan, Mighty Corp., and the one involving the Mile Long real property,” he said.

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He also expressed confidence the Department of Finance is working on a list of big-time tax evaders it would run after.

Diokno said the tax amnesty program is one of the tax administration measures proposed under the DOF’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program.

He said the program would help generate more funds for the government, particularly for the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the government is eyeing to design a tax amnesty scheme to boost collections and bring in more money to state coffers.

Dominguez acknowledged such program would only be effective once the government has stepped up its campaign against tax evaders.

The finance chief also said the government would first need to amend its Bank Secrecy Law before it can proceed with the program.

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