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Lawmakers eye lifting bank secrecy in tax cases

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star
Lawmakers eye lifting bank secrecy in tax cases
There is still time to file and pass such a bill after the May elections, Misamis Oriental Rep. Juliette Uy, vice chair of the House of Representatives committee on micro, small and medium enterprises, said yesterday.
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MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers are eyeing the approval of a new tax amnesty bill that lifts bank secrecy in tax fraud cases, in response to President Duterte’s request.

There is still time to file and pass such a bill after the May elections, Misamis Oriental Rep. Juliette Uy, vice chair of the House of Representatives committee on micro, small and medium enterprises, said yesterday.

She said the House and the Senate could agree to work on a common bill.

The President made the request when he vetoed the general amnesty provision in the tax amnesty bill, which he signed on Feb. 14 as Republic Act No. 11213.

In his veto message to Congress, the President said a general amnesty that is “over-generous and unregulated” would “create an environment ripe for future tax evasion,” which the law seeks to address.

He said he was thus asking lawmakers “to pass another general tax amnesty bill that includes the lifting of bank secrecy for fraud cases,” among other provisions.

Uy and Rep. Mikee Romero of party-list group 1-Pacman, one of the authors of RA 11213, welcomed the President’s decision to sign the tax amnesty bill, excluding the general amnesty section.

Romero said the law would be a big boost to the real estate sector and to the coffers of local government units (LGUs).

“Many Filipino families will soon be able to build new homes, renovate their old residences and use their real property for small business because of the estate tax and general tax amnesty provisions of the new law,” he said.

He said the law reduces estate tax from the previous high of 20 percent to a uniform six percent, regardless of the value of the inherited property.

Aside from the substantially reduced tax, he added that heirs could avail themselves of deductions under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law, like the maximum P15 million for a family home.

“For many Filipino families, the only asset they have is a house or a lot inherited from their parents or grandparents, which they have not been able to transfer, sell or develop due to prohibitive rates of taxes,” he stressed.

Romero pointed out that if these families have a sizeable lot, they could opt to sell part of it to real estate developers, go into small businesses or build apartments for rent.

They could apply for financing from PAG-IBIG or even banks, he said.

He said RA 11213 also sets aside from expected revenues P500 million to be used by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to create a database using all information it could gather from every taxpayer who avails himself of the amnesty. He said the BIR could use such data to improve tax collection.

For his part, deputy speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu said the development potential of inherited properties augurs well for local government units.

“This will mean more income for provinces, cities, towns and even barangay communities,” he said.

He said LGUs would also be able to update their property and valuation records.

BANK SECRECY

TAX AMNESTY BILL

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