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Opinion

Not equal

SINGKIT - Doreen G. Yu - The Philippine Star

Ben Franklin got it wrong; for sure you can’t cheat death – although some do try, with all kinds of chemical and technological “magic” – but hey, taxes are a different matter.

The finance secretary explains away the pass somebody got on not filing income tax returns by saying the rules then were different from the rules now, that there were exemptions then that were subsequently removed and no longer apply today.

It leaves a really bad taste in the mouth and a bubbling rage in the gut that peasants like you and me slaving away have to bear with government getting part of our hard-earned wages – in the form of withholding taxes – even before we get our grubby little hands on one peso of our money. If you compute all the taxes added on to things we buy and services we avail of, what is the amount we give – or rather, is taken from us by government every year? Think of how much of the ever-increasing prices of fuel is tax, in addition to the taxes the oil companies pay when they import the fuel… it’s tax upon tax, patong-patong tax.

And that’s just fuel; what about all the other goods and services (there’s tax when you get a haircut, you know) we buy and avail of in the course of trying to make it through the day, to live as normal a life as is possible under COVID restrictions and alert levels?

Now those finance whizzes are worried that officially declaring that not filing income tax returns and not paying fines for not doing so “is not inherently wrong” might encourage tax non-compliance. So they wave the threat of fines (up to P2,000) and imprisonment (up to six months) to get us to comply.

A friend who has a handicrafts company in the province is being harassed by tax authorities because she cannot show receipts for payments made to people in the communities who do weaving and carving for her. These are housewives and jobless folk that she gives work to; of course they’re not registered enterprises and they cannot give ORs. Likewise expenses for food bought from the carinderia and palengke to feed her workers who stayed in during strict quarantine were disallowed because, again, there were no receipts.

Unfortunately what she did was apparently not “not inherently wrong.” So she’s being assessed and fined hundreds of thousands of pesos. Maybe she should run for public office; maybe then she’ll get a pass too.

BEN FRANKLIN

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