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Finance, BIR firm on taxing teachers' extra pay for poll duties

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Finance, BIR firm on taxing teachers' extra pay for poll duties
Members of ACT's National Capital Region chapter protested on April 6, 2022, the reported tax hike in the allowances of those who will be serving in the polls this coming elections.
ACT Teachers Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — Exempting compensation to teachers who render poll-related work from taxes is unfair and complicates the government's tax system, the Department of Finance said.

This comes a month after teachers' group Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines the 20% income tax imposed on travel allowances and honoraria for teachers who go on duty for the May 9 polls. 

"We do not support the proposed tax exemption...The proposed measures are counter to the principles of TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act) law in making the tax system more efficient. The more exemptions that we introduce, the more difficult it is to implement," Finance Director IV Arvin Lawrence Quiñones said during a Senate hearing on Thursday.

"Exempting one kind of activity [like] the electoral services that our teachers provide, will be inequitable [compared] to other similar activities that provide the similar kinds of benefits," he added.

He said that honoraria and allowances are taxable and that the government should consider other incentives for teachers.

"If we really want to support these sectors, for example, these teachers who are rendering election services, then the tax system is not the best way to address [their concerns]," he said.

Anne Lorraine Garcia, a lawyer for the Bureau of Internal Revenue, said the bureau "generally does not support any further grant of tax exemption or reductions" because these means less money for government.

"Taxes are the life blood of the government and their prompt and certain availability is a...need, especially in times of national emergency," she said.

Lawyer Rozanne Dela Cruz-Reyes of the Commission on Elections pointed out that election-related service is not included in the core tasks that teachers have. The Comelec supports the call to exempt the travel allowances from taxation. 

 Data from the Department of Education showed that there will be around 600,000 of its personnel who will work together with the Comelec in this year's national and local elections. 

Teachers' groups: Tax on allowances 'an insult'

Representatives from ACT, Teachers' Dignity Coalition, the Philippine Public School Teachers Association and Manila Public School Teachers' Association (MPSTA) attended the Thursday hearing to push for exemption.

"We are putting our lives on the line for the integrity of our local and national elections, but the comepnsation is not enough...It is an insult that, during a pandemic, [the government] would increase the workload for BEIs (board of election inspectors) but reduce their compensation," MPSTA president Louie Zabala said.

ACT earlier said in a statement that the BIR had "arbitrarily imposed" taxes on election-related honoraria and allowance four years ago.

During the Thursday hearing, Sen. Sherwin "Win Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate basic education, arts and culture committee, said exempting teachers from the 20% income tax is a "small recognition" for their sacrifice and the extra mile they went to ensure the democratic process. 

"A chairperson of an electoral board, which is normally manned by [someone under] a Teacher 3 category, will be receiving P9,500 in terms of allowance, and if we exempt them from the 20% tax, the same teacher will receive an additional P1,900," he said. 

Gatchalian said legislation to exempt election-related allowances and honoraria from taxes may be passed in time for the barangay elections, which may take place by the end of the year.

2022 ELECTIONS

BIR

BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE

COMELEC

DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE

DOF

TEACHERS

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