Senior lawmakers revive general tax amnesty bill previously vetoed by Duterte

Published October 4, 2019, 5:04 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Ben Rosario 

Senior administration lawmakers have revived the general tax amnesty provisions that were vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte when he signed into law Republic Act 11213 or the Tax Amnesty Act.

House of the Representatives (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN / FILE PHOTO)
House of the Representatives (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN / FILE PHOTO)

Reps. Sharon Garin (AAMBIS OWA Partylist), Estrellita Suansing (PDP-Laban Nueva Ecija) and Horacio Suansing (PDP-Laban, Sultan Kudarat) authored separate legislative measures that corrected the Tax Amnesty Act provisions that were rejected by Duterte.

The bills seek to grant amnesty to all unpaid internal revenue taxes and penalties imposed for such offense.

“It is imperative to have a general tax amnesty program for the taxpayers’ benefits but with the condition of lifting the bank secrecy and authorizing an automatic exchange of information for certain cases involving tax administration,” said Garin in filing House Bill 3671.

Garin, chairperson of the House Committee on Economic Affairs, said the bill also proposes to improve and increase the “level of public tax consciousness, give errant taxpayers a chance to enter the tax system on a clean slate and widen the tax base.”

On the other hand, Estrellita and Horacio Suansing pointed out that they have re-filed the bill to “heed the president’s noble call” when he vetoed the general tax amnesty provisions of RA 11213.

Estrellita, vice-chairperson of the House Committee on Ways and Means, noted that Duterte complained that the proposal gave taxpayers “unconditional latitude” despite taking advantage of the reprieve offer.

“This bill contains the safeguards sought for a more balanced general tax amnesty,” explained Horacio, vice chairman of the Committee on Appropriations.

Common in the two bills filed were the provisions on General Tax Amnesty that will cover national internal revenue taxes such as income tax, withholding tax, capital gains tax, donor’s tax, value added tax, percentage taxes, documentary stamp taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Also included in the tax exoneration are unpaid value added tax and excise taxes collected by the Bureau of Customs.

However, applicants of the immunities and privileges will be pay amnesty tax on various modes that the taxpayer may choose from:

1. Rate of 2 percent based on taxpayer’s total assets as of December 31, 2017;

2. Based on the taxpayer’s total net worth as of December 31, 2017 with individual, trust, and estates paying 5 percent or P75,000 whichever is higher and various amounts ranging from P100,000 to P1 million.

Applicants are also directed to file a sworn General Tax Amnesty Return (GTAR) which authorizes the BIR Commissioner to inquire into and receive information on he taxpayer’s bank deposits and realted data.

Further, the GTAR will also be accompanied with a Statement of Total Assets and Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Networth of the applicant within and outside the Philippines.

IN exchange, the taxpayer will be entitled to immunity from payment of taxes and penalties and from being charged with civil, criminal and administrative cases arising from the non-payment of internal revenue taxes from 2017 and prior years.

The legislative proposals also provide that all information volunteered by the petitioning taxpayer will be held confidential in nature and cannot be used in any investigation or prosecution before judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies.

Further, the taxpayer will be entitled to use the documents for defense in court cases brought against him.

Persons found guilty of violating the confidentiality clause of the measure will be liable to a fine not exceeding P150,000 and imprisonment ranging from six to ten years.