EDITORIAL - Seniors, PWDs cannot carry tax reform burden
(The Freeman) - August 18, 2016 - 12:00am

The Duterte administration's ambitious tax reform package, among whose highlights are reductions in corporate and income taxes, seeks to recover some of the revenue losses expected from such reductions by doing away with the value added tax exemptions now currently enjoyed by senior citizens and persons with disabilities. This is no different from taking away the lollipop of one baby and giving it to another.

Put another way, it is just like trying to correct one defect by creating another. A malfunctioning radio cannot be repaid by slamming down a fist down hard on it. If this is all the reform tax package that Duterte's so-called experts are capable of putting together, then the president ought to have their heads checked because you simply cannot do right by doing wrong.

No tax package can be serious about real reform if it takes away from those who need protection and privileges the most. Most senior citizens are presumably those who have given their all to their country in their prime, who have done their share in nation-building and have prepared the way for the succeeding generations to take over.

PWDs, on the other hand, have been deprived of a fair shake in life. Mostly through choices they did not make. They are not asking for the impossible, like being restituted for life's uneven roll of the dice. But they sure could need every little bit of society's graciousness, as well as that human longing for dignity and recognizance.

Surely there are other ways of recovering tax revenue losses from the projected corporate and income tax cuts without having to source them from the benefits enjoyed by senior citizens and PWDs. It was widely thought that the Duterte administration was already on the right track when it threatened to expose those who do not pay the right taxes. What has happened to that pursuit?

And there was that initiative started during the previous administration against professionals who brazenly and shamelessly cheat on their returns, paying only taxes that are so ridiculously low even janitors pay more. These are the kinds of people a reform-minded Duterte administration should pursue relentlessly if it truly means what it says about tax reforms.

If the Duterte administration's tax reform initiative is so ambitious that it cannot attain its goals without having to squeeze the arms of senior citizens and PWDs, then it should cut back on its ambitions and lower its goals rather than force the issue at the expense of society's most vulnerable sectors. What kind of nation are we that we would let senior citizens and PWDs carry the weight of new tax benefits for the able-bodied and economically productive.

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