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General tax amnesty awaits plenary action in the Senate

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SENATOR Juan Edgardo M. Angara, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means committee, on Tuesday submitted a general tax amnesty bill for plenary action.

Senate Bill No. 2059, or the proposed Tax Amnesty Act of 2018, covers tax obligations for years up to 2017 with or without assessments in three major areas: estate taxes, general taxes and delinquent accounts.

“We push for a general tax amnesty today not just to give taxpayers a chance to adjust to the new rules that were put in place last year but also to lighten the load of an overburdened BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) in the hopes that they can now focus on their main mandate of collection,” he said in his sponsorship speech.

“We envision that with this amnesty, all parties involved may be absolved and unburdened of the sins of the past.”

On estate tax amnesty, Mr. Angara said qualified taxpayers can avail of the reprieve and instead pay six percent based on the decedent’s total net estate, if no estate tax return was filed, or on net undeclared estate if a return had been filed.

On the amnesty for delinquency in value-added and excise taxes, qualified corporate parties will have to pay five percent of total net worth or a minimum tax depending on their subscribed capital will be collected.

On amnesty for delinquent accounts, taxpayers can avail of the following rates:

• 40% of the basic tax for delinquency assessments which have become final and executory;

• 50% of the basic tax for those subject of pending criminal cases with criminal information filed in court for tax evasion and other criminal offense and pending cases involving fraud, illegal exaction and transactions, and malversation of public funds and property;

• 60% of the basic tax for cases subject to final and executory judgement by the court.

Mr. Angara said those who will avail of the tax amnesty program will be immune from civil, criminal, and administrative cases and penalties under the National Internal Revenue Code as amended.

The same measure also puts in place an information management system and automatic exchange between the Bureau of Internal Revenue and its foreign counterparts to validate tax declarations and subsequent compliance of those availing of the amnesty offer.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri told reporters that the Senate hopes to approve the measure between November and January next year. “We committed to pass it — if not next month — hopefully by January, we can approve the tax amnesty measure,” he said.

The measure forms part of a wide-ranging tax reform program of the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte that aims to shift the tax burden more on to those who can afford to pay, besides raising more cash to finance bigger state spending on infrastructure. — Camille A. Aquinaldo