DOF: No basis for SC to stop TRAIN
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - January 14, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) sees no basis for the Supreme Court (SC) to slap a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the recently enacted tax reform law.

In an interview, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said he does not believe there will be any basis for the SC to grant the petition of lawmakers and block the enforcement of Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act.

“We don’t believe so, but you can never tell,” Dominguez said.

Last Thursday, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio and Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao filed a petition seeking the help of the SC to stop the TRAIN Act, saying the passage of the law was railroaded by the Congress in violation of the Constitution.

They said only around 10 lawmakers, including the petitioners, were present during the ratification stage.

According to finance officials, there are ways to determine and verify if there was indeed a lack of quorum during the session wherein the law was approved.

“First of all, my understanding is the quorum is set at the beginning of the session and you don’t take a quorum (after) voting. It’s one time only,” Dominguez said.

“What the House (of Representatives) can do is after a day (of a session) they can review and ratify their minutes. So on Jan. 15, what they can do is to ratify their minutes, that there was a quorum. That may address the issue,” Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua added.

However, should the SC issue a TRO, finance officials said the government would be forced to comply, and warned that Filipinos may no longer benefit from the tax cuts in their personal income taxes.

“If (it) gets a TRO then you guys will not benefit from the tax reduction in your salary, all of us will not benefit,” Dominguez said.

Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko added all tax cuts already imposed on the salaries of employees since Jan. 1 would have to be deducted from their succeeding payrolls.

Earlier, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Caesar Dulay also said the BIR would abide by whatever is decided by the SC.

“If they issue a TRO then we have to abide because that is from the SC. This is a democratic country. This is the beauty of our system of government,” he said.

The TRAIN law, which contains Package 1A of the DOF’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), aims to simplify the country’s tax system by lowering personal income tax rates.

However, it also seeks to adjust excise taxes of fuel, automobile, coal and sugar-sweetened beverages and expand the tax base by removing value-added tax exemptions.

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