Bill exempting frontliners from paying tax for 1 year referred to House panel

A bill seeking to exempt from taxation for taxable year 2020 all medical and non-medical frontliners who are directly serving, treating, caring,aiding, and assisting COVID-19 patients has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

The House Committee on Rules, chaired by House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, referred House Bill No. 7351, principally authored by Nueva Vizcaya  Rep. Luisa Loren Cuaresma, to the House Committee on Ways and Means on Aug. 24.

Cuaresma has  urged her colleagues to support her measure, to be known as “Handog sa mga Bayaning Lumalaban Kontra COVID-19 Act," which seeks to exempt the frontliners from paying income tax for a period of one year.

“This same bill is also a simple way for the government to express its gratitude and appreciation for the courage and dedication being shown by all country’s frontliners in the face of this pandemic posed by the coronavirus disease,“ she said.

Covered by the bill are those engaged in health-related services and working or employed in hospitals, clinics, or other medical institutions, whether public or private, which accept or treat patients infected with COVID-19.

Administrative employees, support personnel, and staff of health institutions regardless of their employment status stand to benefit from Cuaresma’s proposal.

HB 7351 provides that the proposed exemption would only cover the salary or compensation,  as well as gross receipts from the exercise of profession or employment, received by a frontliner for taxable year 2020.

"The tax holiday shall not include those income received by the frontliners from other businesses, investments, and other kinds of passive income not related to serving, treating, caring, aiding, and assisting COVID-19 patients,” the bill said.

Under the measure,  subject to the pertinent regulations of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), non-medical and medical frontliners are still required to file their percentage tax returns, Value-Added Tax returns, and quarterly income tax returns to their respective revenue district offices.

The measure authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Finance (DoF) to extend for a period of not more than six months the exemption from payment of income tax to qualified frontliners based on the decision of the President of the Philippines upon the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force.