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Business

Group wants income tax reform an election issue

Prinz Magtulis - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines - After the 16th Congress adjourned last Wednesday, tax professionals said income tax reform - highly opposed by the Aquino administration - should remain alive in another battleground: the election season.

"We are envisioning on making this as an election issue," said Benedict Tugonon, president of the Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP).

"We are going to work with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in including fiscal reform issues as among the agenda," he told reporters in a briefing on Thursday.

TMAP, a non-profit organization composed of over 130 firms, said it has partnered with the Development Alternatives Inc. to collate questions "that we want the candidates to answer during the debates."

Comelec has tied-up with media organizations, including The STAR, to put up presidential debates for the upcoming May 8 national elections.

Aside from this, Tugonon said TMAP will move to re-file the bill once the new Congress - and a new administration - takes over in July.

"Last year, we thought we almost have it. We were so near because we already have the support of the two houses of Congress. This year, we are again pushing for it," he said.

"Unfortunately, I haven't heard the candidates talk about fiscal reforms. Hopefully, we can hear them speak once we ask them," Tugonon said.

When asked if TMAP will support a particular candidate, Tugonon declined to name names, but said: "I think all of them naman are in favor. Even (Mar) Roxas seems to have changed tone on it."

Of the presidential candidates, only the administration-bet Roxas has opposed slashing income taxes, saying this could lead to state programs getting unfunded. 

TMAP Director Eleonor Roque, for her part, reiterated the pending bills before at Congress were good enough to be pursued without too much impact on government finances.

President Aquino had voiced out opposition to proposals from his own allies to slash income tax rates going up to 32 percent, leaving the bills languishing at the legislature.

The Department of Finance (DOF), specifically, said the bill will lower revenues by around P30 billion annually once enacted into law.

"Right now, if you see the proposals, they are not really that drastic in terms of effect to revenues. At the least, we really want the (income) brackets revised since it's been there since 1997," Roque said.

Tugonon said TMAP is willing to sit down with the DOF to compare estimates and dialogue. "We are of the position that it is not really that huge," he emphasized.

"In principle, when you give taxpayers more money, a lot of them will consume and there will be recovery there in terms of VAT (value-added tax) collections," he said.

"We invite the DOF to put their estimate on the ground so that it can be studied by everyone," he added.

AQUINO

BENEDICT TUGONON

COMELEC

DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE

DEVELOPMENT ALTERNATIVES INC

DIRECTOR ELEONOR ROQUE

PRESIDENT AQUINO

QUOT

ROXAS

TAX MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES

TUGONON

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