Tax professionals push fiscal reforms in election debates
Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) - February 4, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – After the 16th Congress adjourned 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 yesterday.

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 May 8 national elections.

Tugonon said TMAP would likewise move to re-file the bill once the new Congress – and a new administration – takes over in July.

“Last year, we thought we almost had it. We were so near because we already had 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.

TMAP director Eleonor Roque, for her part, reiterated the pending bills in 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 would lower revenues by around P30 billion annually once enacted into law.

ACIRC AQUINO BENEDICT TUGONON COMELEC CONGRESS DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE DEVELOPMENT ALTERNATIVES INC ELEONOR ROQUE PRESIDENT AQUINO TAX MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES TUGONON
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