ACT says BIR assertion on tax exemption of teachers on poll duty ‘not the reality on the ground’

By Chito Chavez

The militant group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) asserted that just compensation to its members with income below P250,000 per year was denied contrary to the supposed insistence of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Raymond Basilio, secretary general of ACT Philippines (ACT / MANILA BULLETIN)
Raymond Basilio, secretary general of ACT Philippines (ACT / MANILA BULLETIN)

Scoring what it claimed was a violation of teacher’s rights, ACT countered the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) claim in a press release “that poll service honoraria and allowances of teachers with annual income of below P250,000 are tax-exempt and is not the reality on the ground’’.

“Teachers I who are supposed to be tax-exempt had their honoraria and allowances as electoral board members automatically deducted a five percent tax. Such is the case during the arbitrary and first time implementation of this nonsense in the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections. Same thing happened to the recently released travel allowance for teachers who attended BEI trainings for the coming midterm polls,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

Basilio noted ACT had received reports from teachers in at least 10 regions, who have yet to receive their tax refund following the aforementioned automatic deduction on their allowances and honoraria in 2018.

Likewise, ACT claimed the 2019 electoral board members received only P1,900 of the P2,000 travel allowance for attending Comelec’s Board of Election Inspectors training which indicates the deduction of a five-percent tax.

“This press release means nothing if it will not be implemented on the ground. We implore BIR to order COMELEC to refrain from automatically deducting tax from our honorarium and allowances. The COMELEC central office, for its part, must ensure that no such thing happens on the district level,” pressed Basilio.

ACT insisted it was the duty of Comele to facilitate the automatic tax exemption of Teachers I at the soonest possible time, and ensure the full release of tax-exempt teachers’ honoraria and allowances in the next days.

The teachers’ federation also urged the Comelec and the BIR to immediately resolve the un-refunded taxes of teachers who served in the 2018 elections.

ACT lashed out the BIR’s claim that it had sent ACT a copy of any of its rulings regarding poll worker tax.

“We have never received any BIR ruling on the matter which they sent through their own volition. In fact, even the formal petition we filed before the bureau remains unanswered up to this time. BIR tries to cover up their neglect of duty with fabricated statements. It is high time they do teachers some genuine service by scrapping the poll work tax,” said Basilio.

On May 9, ACT will hold a dialogue with BIR to discuss the petition ACT filed on May 2018 for the scrapping of the five percent tax, as well as to register teacher-poll workers’ issues in relation to tax deduction and refund.

“We stand by our assertion that election service should not be subjected to tax. No existing tax rule justifies the imposition. More importantly, it defeats the spirit of amply compensating the teachers’ sacrifices during the performance of election duties,” concluded Basilio.