Junk 5% tax on pay for teachers serving in barangay elections! —KMU

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) condemns not only the decision of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to impose a 5 percent tax on teachers’ compensation for their service during the 2018 barangay elections, but also its fake “exemption” for low-income teachers.

The BIR’s withholding tax will apply to both the P6,000 honoraria for teachers’ service as poll workers and their P1,000 travel allowance for the day.

“It is a travesty to impose such an arbitrary and unnecessary tax on the already meager income of public school teachers,” said KMU Secretary-General Jerome Adonis. “Also, the travel allowance is not even income. It is reimbursement for their expenses in traveling to and from their assigned precincts, and in transporting various election paraphernalia to other locations as directed by barangay officials.”

KMU also slammed a resolution released by the Department of Education (DepED) and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in response to protests against the tax.

Resolution No. 10332 of the DepED and COMELEC allows the BIR to return the tax to teachers who earn less than P250,000 annually, as prescribed under the Tax Reform for Acceleration (TRAIN) law. However, teachers would be individually responsible for going to the BIR to proving their income bracket and reclaiming the 5 percent tax from the agency.

“The DepED/COMELEC resolution is an insult to teachers,” said Adonis. “The amount of time, money, and effort teachers would have to expend just to recover the tax isn’t worth it. It’s not an exemption, it’s just a publicity stunt to divert attention from their failure to challenge the BIR on this issue.”

The KMU also claimed that the tax on teachers’ honorarium for the barangay elections is an additional burden to teachers amidst the already gross impacts of the TRAIN law to low and middle income Filipino working people.

“Instead of increasing teachers’ salaries and workers’ wages, the Duterte government is more inclined on siphoning greater taxes from our meager income. This would only worsen the hunger and poverty among the Filipino working people,” said Adonis.

Adonis asserted that Filipino workers and teachers demands the implementation of a National Minimum Wage that would par wages in all regions and industries and a nationwide increase of wages to 750 pesos for daily wage workers and to 16,000 pesos for monthly wage and salary earners. This according to Adonis would serve as an immediate relief for workers and their families amidst the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services due to the TRAIN Law.