Lawmaker files bill seeking tax exemptions for national athletes’ rewards

Lawmaker files bill seeking tax exemptions for national athletesâ rewards
Philippines' Hidilyn Diaz competes in the women's 55kg weightlifting competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo on July 26, 2021.
AFP / Chris Graythen, pool

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker has filed a measure seeking to exempt the rewards of weight lifter and Olympic gold-medalist Hidilyn Diaz, along with other national athletes, from all forms of taxes and fees on their rewards.

Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay 2nd District), who chairs the House committee on ways and means, disclosed Wednesday afternoon that he filed House Bill No. 9891 or the Hidilyn Diaz Act of 2021 to exempt monetary donations and rewards in favor of national athletes and coaches from taxes.

READ: Will taxmen come for Hidilyn Diaz's prizes?

In the bill's explanatory note, Salceda said that the measure looks to ensure that "the failure to issue revenue regulations providing the implementing mechanisms for the exemption will not preclude the provision from being implemented."

"The honor that Filipino athletes have brought to the country this year is immense and historic. So unprecedented is this honor that it appears our laws were unable to anticipate the outpouring of material solidarity from different sectors of society for our winning athletes and coaches," the bill reads. 

Salceda added that the bill is meant to "express the State’s solidarity and congratulations for our winning athletes and coaches."

To recall, Republic Act No. 10699 or the Sports Benefits and Incentives Act of 2001 provides privileges, benefits, scholarships, and other rewards for gold medalists representing the country on a major international stage. 

It also allocates ten million pesos and an Olympic Gold Medal of Valor to be issued by the PSC for gold medalists in the Summer Olympic and Winter Olympic Games.

Should the measure be approved, the law will be amended to include:

  • Exemption of rewards, bonuses, and other forms of emoluments in favor of national athletes and coaches who compete or win international sports competitions as defined in this act from any and all taxes, fees, and charges levied by any government agency, local or national, subject to the rules and regulations to be issued by the secretary of finance, as recommended by the commissioner of internal revenue: provided, that the failure of the bureau of internal revenue to promulgate rules and regulations for this paragraph shall not preclude this paragraph from being carried out.
  • Provided further, that this section shall not be in lieu of any and all tax privileges already exercised by national athletes and coaches, or the donors of such reward or emoluments

"I run after big-time smugglers and tax evaders. The foregone taxes are just too small to even both collecting, not to mention diminishing the honor and national pride our athletes have gifted us," Salceda is quoted as saying in reports.

"I’m not willing to rain on national pride by insisting that we collect taxes on our national athletes. Neither should the law. So we will change the law,” he also said.

The Palace has since spun the award to the credit of the Duterte administration, saying the president "promised" to reward Diaz. 

"I don’t want to announce it yet because it could still increase but President Duterte has promised millions for athletes for those who will win the gold," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said. 

However, the reward is actually mandated by the law, which was signed by former President Benigno Aquino III.

This, despite President Rodrigo Duterte himself implicating Diaz in a matrix of alleged personalities and groups that his spokesperson claimed were allegedly plotting to oust Duterte.

— Franco Luna with a report from Xave Gregorio 

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