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House panel okays tax exempt bill

A House of Representatives’ panel approved a measure exempting election servers, such as members of the Board of Election Inspectors, from having their honoraria subjected to income and other withholding taxes.

During a virtual hearing yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved an unnumbered substitute bill that would provide income taxation exemption to compensation of BEIs and other election personnel, typically public school teachers for serving in the national and local elections.

The bill seeks to amend the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 to exclude election-related honoraria and allowances from the computation of gross income.

Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma, author of the bill, said the measure aims to allow teachers to fully enjoy the amount of compensation being paid to them and recognize their notable service even in hazardous environments during election seasons.

Cuaresma noted that the compensation that teachers receive is usually being subjected to income tax.

“As a result, the hard-earned compensation being earned by teachers, which to some extent, becomes the price for their safety and lives, is being reduced to a meager amount that is barely sufficient to augment their other source of income,” she said.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, committee chair, said the measure should be fast-tracked in time for the 2022 elections.

“Considering both the risks election workers take, the relatively small size of their compensation for such an important function, and the reasonableness of the tax foregone, this proposal does not pose serious threats to our revenue strength,” Salceda said.

According to data from the Commission on Elections, taxes withheld for the 2019 National and Local Elections amounted to P56.8 million.

“The cost is very reasonable, at around P56.8 million. It’s worth apprehending just one big-time tax evader. It’s an easy choice,” Salceda said.*PNA

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