Bill extending estate tax amnesty OK'd by House panel

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The House Committee on Ways and Means approved  Monday a measure that seeks to extend the availment period of estate tax amnesty under Republic Act (RA) No.11213 or the 2019 Tax Amnesty Act for two more years.

A COVID-19 pandemic response measure at its core, House Bill (HB) No.7068 was filed by Majority Floor Leader Rep. Martin Romualdez, Tingog Sinirangan party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, and Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter "Sharky" Palma II.

AAMBIS-OWA party-list Rep. Sharon Garin sponsored HB No.7068 on behalf of the authors during the virtual hearing of the panel.

The measure amends Section 6 of the Tax Amnesty Act of 2019 to read, "The executor or administrator of the estate, or if there is no executor or administrator appointed, the legal heirs, transferees, or beneficiaries, who wish to avail of the Estate Tax Amnesty, shall, within four (4) years from the effectivity of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of this Act, file with the Revenue District Office of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which has jurisdiction over the last residence of the decedent, a sworn Estate Tax Amnesty Return, in such forms as may be prescribed in the IRR."

The existing language in RA No.11213 only prescribes an availment period of two years.

"Under this law, the government provides the taxpayers a one-time opportunity to settle estate tax obligations through an estate tax amnesty program that gives reasonable tax relief to estates with outstanding estate tax liabilities. Taxpayers who avail of the estate tax amnesty enjoy immunity from the payment of estate taxes, civil, criminal, and administrative cases and penalties," the authors wrote in the explanatory note of their bill.

"It's just unfortunate that the Philippines is not spared from the ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein many people lost their jobs and folded up their businesses. Most economic activities were stalled. The people lost precious period of time and possible sources of income in order to avail of this tax amnesty program of the government," they noted.

"While the COVID-19 pandemic still persists, people will have extreme difficulty in paying their taxes much more in settling their estate tax dues even with this tax amnesty program," they said.

The availment period extension "will enable those who want to take advantage of this program ample time to recoup their resources and get back on their feet so they can still apply and pay their estate tax dues. This will also provide economic relief for many Filipinos at this time of crisis," the authors reckoned.

Baguio City Rep. Mark Go quickly moved for the approval of the bill after resource person, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Assistant Secretary Elenita Quimosing, revealed that the collection targets set by the Department of Finance (DoF) for RA No.11213 was still far from being fulfilled.

"For the tax amnesty on delinquencies, the total collection from 2019 until June of 2020 is P3.403 billion. And then for estate tax amnesty, it's P1.362 billion, for a total of P4.765 billion. And the total availers (were) 23,911 for both," she told the panel during questioning by Go.

"The target for the estate tax, as set by the DoF, is P6 billion. And the target for the tax amnesty on delinquencies is P21 billion. Medyo malayo pa po (We're still quite far) because of the situation we are in now," Quimosing noted.

"The more then that we will support this particular bill," the Baguio lawmaker said just before moving for the bill's approval, with no changes. The motion was carried after nobody objected.