Taxes on the working class

DIRECT FROM THE LABOR FRONT - Atty Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

The power of the state to tax is the power to destroy. These are threatening words of the US Supreme Court, in the case of Mc Culloch vs. Maryland, which our own  Highest Court likes to quote whenever certain taxpayer have the courage to question the State's authority to impose tax burdens on the people. In fact, in one case, (Churchill vs. Concepcion, 34 Phil 969 ), the High Tribunal declared that the power to impose taxes is one that is so unlimited, in force and so searching in extent, that courts scarcely venture to declare that it is subject to any restrictions, except those that rest in the discretion of the authority which exercises it.

If we look at taxation in our country today, we feel sad, even angry, that, in totality, it is the middle class that bears the bulk of the whole nation's tax burdens. The poor and the very poor do not pay income taxes, simply because either they do not have any income at all, or that their income is too low that, after all the deductible items and the allowable exemptions, they have no more taxable income. On the other hand, the rich and the very rich have all the ways and the connections that they can avail of  and all ways of avoiding and evading taxes. They have lawyers and accountants to help them lessen their tax burdens.

The salaried workers are the most overtaxed segment of the population. Without even asking them, the employer deducts a large chunk of the employees' wages and benefits, on top of the statutory deductions to be remitted to the SSS, Philhealth and PAG-IBIG. The workers have no choice. They do not have any right to refuse, much less to complain. They just have to grin and bear it. The workers' take home pay is substantially eroded. They have to support the government even if they do not get any service from the government for free. They pay the SSS to insure them, the Philhealth to give them medical benefits, and PAG-IBIG to give them the elusive dream of getting a loan for housing.

Taxation, among all the inherent powers of the state, is the most cruel. By eminent domain, the state gets your property for public use but only upon payment of just compensation. By police power, the state imposes restrictions on the freedom and rights of the people but all for the common good. But what do the citizens get from taxation? Senators who will distribute among themselves some outrageous amounts of bonuses as if they have done something positive to alleviate the sufferings of the masses. Congressmen who squander public funds to bribe people into voting them.

The roads and bridges are being claimed by “epal” and “kapal” trapos who have the temerity to put their faces on billboard, portraying themselves as the source of these public works. The fact is that these projects were taken from the plates of the poor in order to fund the contractors' SOP for the dirty politicians. These are the very same people who evade taxes and invent all ways to shield their hidden wealth from the searching eyes of the BIR and the Bureau of Customs. And these are the very people who are asking for your vote. Shame on them. Ask them how much taxes have they paid.

And so, indeed, taxation is the power to destroy, it really destroys the citizens' respect for the government. It erodes on the peoples' confidence on the duly constituted authorities. It makes people angry, resentful and pained, especially when small guys are being threatened with criminal prosecution and heavy fines and surcharges, while the big ones laugh their way to the banks abroad, with accounts hidden somewhere in Swiss banks or in the Caribbean. Taxation is a very dangerous power that the people entrusted on the government, only to be used against the very people who granted it to the state, in the first place.

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