DepEd: Exempting teachers' poll allowance from taxes up to Congress

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
DepEd: Exempting teachers' poll allowance from taxes up to Congress
Members of ACT's National Capital Region chapter protested the reported tax hike in the allowances of those who will be serving in the polls this coming elections.
ACT Teachers Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education said Wednesday it is up to Congress to amend the law to exempt teachers working during the polls from paying a 20% tax to the government. 

This comes a month after teachers' group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines decried the 20% tax placed on their travel allowances worth P2,000 each for poll duties in this year's elections. This is a huge increase from the previous tax of 5%, which the group had also protested.

Teachers are part of the Electoral Board, which provides election-related services. Members of the EB will receive honoraria, travel allowances, communication allowances, anti-COVID-19 allowances and service credits for their services.

In a Laging Handa briefing Wednesday, Education Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua said the agency, as well as the Commission on Elections and Bureau of Internal Revenue are in favor of the proposed exemption. 

"But there is a law which needs to be amended before [we] implement the exemption, and Congress has not made the amendment yet. That's why their honoraria and allowances are not yet exempted, " Pascua said in Filipino. 

It seems unlikely that Congress will take this up, given the limited time. Work in the legislature is on hold until May 23, as several members are focused on campaigning for the May elections.

In the same briefing, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said they already filed the request to exempt the teachers rendering poll work from the taxes, but added it would be up to the Finance department to make the recommendation. 

ACT previously claimed that BIR arbitrarily imposed taxes on their election pay in 2018.

During the May 9 elections, over 30,000 teachers will be sent to polling precincts to ensure the proper conduct of the elections. 

Earlier Wednesday, members of ACT staged a picket protest at the Comelec office today to demand a dialogue with officials to tackle urgent issues and concerns, including their plea to scrap the tax raise levied on their election service-related pay. 

"There's still so much that we need to discuss and resolve, and we only have so little time left to do so, they need to start acting with urgency. We've been raising these concerns to the Commission since May 2021. While they have at certain points publicly expressed support to some of our calls, they need to go beyond that and actually engage in the democratic process of consultation and collaboration with us," ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said in an emailed statement. 

A representative of ACT told Philstar.com that they were not able to speak with Comelec during the rally and that police had kept them from going inside.

Last year, a bill was filed at the House seeking to exempt the salaries and allowances of those rendering poll-related services from taxation. The measure was approved on the third reading and transmitted to the Senate. The Senate has not acted on the bill.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who is running for another term in the senate in this may elections, joined calls to suspend the collection of the withholding tax of teachers serving in this year's elections, saying that such a move is "wrong timing and too harsh" as teachers are starting to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.







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