By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Teachers who will render poll duty on election day asked the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Monday to immediately “recall” the tax imposed on poll service compensation and refund all previous deductions on their election service honoraria and allowances.
A week before the 2019 midterm elections, members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) trooped to the BIR office in Diliman, Quezon City, to protest the “continued imposition of unwarranted” five percent (5 percent) tax on their election service honoraria and allowances. ACT also alleged that tax refund of teachers in the 2018 elections remained “unreleased.”
“We demand the immediate recall of the tax imposition to poll service compensation and the refund of all previous deductions by BIR,” said ACT Teachers’ Election Hotline Spokesperson Ruby Bernardo. The group also lambasted the tax agency for “insisting on the collection of some P100 million taxes from meager poll work compensation while it reportedly has P80 billion in uncollected taxes.”
Bernardo alleged that the Duterte government – through the BIR – is “hell-bent on exacting their share from ordinary Filipinos’ hard-earned money while it lets multi-million tax evaders get away.” She also slammed the alleged tax incentives, holidays, and other privileges the government grants to huge, multi-national corporations.
The government, Bernardo further argued, capitalizes “on its capacity to impose unfair and unwarranted automatic deductions on rank-and-file employees of the government, all of whom belong to low-level salary grades.” For instance, she noted the plight of public school teachers whose election service compensation were “indiscriminately” charged a 5 percent tax for the first time during the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Refund previous deductions
“With no law to support it and only a misplaced use of authority, BIR was able to arbitrarily impose a tax on our meager compensation,” Bernardo said. “This just goes to show how tax-hungry the Duterte administration is,” she added.
She alleged that the government is also “responsible” for the additional excise tax brought about by the TRAIN Law. “No thanks to the TRAIN Law-induced price surge in basic commodities, teachers and other low-income workers live on a hand-to-mouth basis,” she said. “This is no way to live! It is therefore just to fight for teachers to receive in full the fruits of their honest work,” she added.
Bernardo noted that ACT has “officially requested” the scrapping of the 5% tax deduction on election service honoraria and allowances through a petition submitted to BIR in May 2018. But the agency, she added, has been “sleeping on its job” and failed to act on the urgent request one year later.
“Buwis-buhay na nga, bubuwisan pa!” said Bernardo. “We demand the immediate recall of the tax imposition to poll service compensation and the refund of all previous deductions by BIR,” she added. The group also chided the bureau for “non-payment of tax refunds of teachers in 10 regions who served in the 2018 elections.”
“Just as how diligent they were in exacting taxes from the low-salaried teachers, they were just as neglectful in paying back the taxes they wrongly collected,” Bernando said, noting that “fair play and compassion” should never be expected from this agency. “This further proves the justness of our demand to abolish the tax poll service compensation,” Bernardo said.