Aquino gov’t, enemy of tax relief for ordinary Filipinos

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Last Tuesday, House Speaker Sonny Belmonte said moves to decrease ordinary Filipinos’ income taxes will no longer prosper in Congress. He said Congress does not have enough time for the measures and that it “should have more time for bigger reform.”

Lack of time is a lame excuse for not passing bills seeking lower income taxes. The truth is that the Aquino government is an enemy of tax relief for ordinary Filipinos. Pres. Noynoy Aquino himself demanded that proponents of tax relief come up with proposals to replace the P30-billion revenue which the government will supposedly lose if tax relief measures are approved.

The recently-concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit surely has something to do with the Aquino government’s firmer opposition to tax relief measures. APEC surely reiterated the dictates of big foreign capitalists and financial institutions to governments of underdeveloped countries to carry out fiscal austerity.

The International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, among other financial institutions want the government to increase tax collection so it can put more money to paying the foreign debt.

This, despite the fact that Filipinos are shouldering some of the biggest income taxes in Southeast Asia, even as the country has the third lowest per-capita income among APEC countries.

The call for tax relief for ordinary Filipinos is most just. Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares’ House Bill 5401 or the Personal Income Tax Reform Bill, which seeks to reduce the income taxes of the middle class, and exempt low-income families earning a maximum of P396,000 annually from income tax, should be passed immediately.

Ordinary workers and employees are overworked, underpaid and overtaxed. Congress should work double time to pass the Personal Income Tax Reform Bill before it adjourns. This bill’s passage is much-needed by Filipinos and is long overdue.

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