By Jun Ramirez
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) has finally accepted the rules and regulations of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) imposing five percent withholding tax on the honorarium that public teachers will receive for their election duties on Monday.
Officials of the teachers’ group reluctantly conceded to the BIR’s position that the poll allowance forms part of their earnings, and is, thus, subject to income tax as prescribed by the Tax Code.
The agreement was reached during the more than one-hour dialogue held at the BIR main office the other day, which was attended by revenue legal officials led by lawyer Juanito Balbastre III of the law and legislative division and officers of ACT headed by Raymond Basilio, ACT secretary general and Joselyn Martinez, president of ACT in the National Capital Region (NCR).
BIR officials asked the ACT to make representations with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to exempt from withholding tax the honorarium given to mentors whose annual salary is P250,000 and less, the new tax exemption schedule prescribed under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
The ACT has been vocal about the imposition of the tax as its members even held a rally at the gate of the BIR main office early this week to dramatize their protest.
BIR insiders partly attributed the ACT opposition to the decision of the Comelec imposing across- the-board collection of the tax regardless if the teachers’ income did not reach the new tax exemption ceiling.
It is the Comelec that gives the honoraria to teachers, and not the Department of Education, with allowance ranging from P6,000 for the chair of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), P5,000 for board members and lower amounts to support staff.