Senator Nancy Binay on Thursday said the government should heed the appeal of tourism stakeholders for a deferment of the payment of local taxes this year due to massive losses brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) has recently sent a letter to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año asking his help in getting local government units (LGUs) to defer the payment of business taxes.
According to the TCP, it has received reports from its members that various LGUs have been issuing assessment fees for business taxes, with some assessments based on 2019 income.
“I hope our government accedes to the request of our tourism establishments for a deferment. Our tourism industry were the ones greatly affected by this pandemic, that’s why I hope they would be given some leeway,” said Binay, who chairs the Senate Committee on Tourism.
Binay said LGUs shouldn’t expect tourism establishments to be able to pay their taxes based on un-adjusted assessments, given that the sector had ground to a halt after the first quarter of 2020 after travel restrictions were imposed.
She pointed out the country’s tourism receipts fell by 81 percent from P437.9-billion in the same period in 2019 to P81.05-billion from January to November 2020.
“We do understand the side of the LGUs. After all, taxes are the lifeblood of public services. But these establishments are also part of their constituency and they provide jobs for our people,” Binay said.
“They may end up bankrupt and choose to close their operations if they are forced to pay when they really cannot afford to do so,” she stressed.
She said the DILG and local government executives should hold a dialogue with tourism stakeholders to determine a solution to the latter’s request for concessions seen to aid the industry’s recovery.
Earlier, tourism stakeholders had recommended the waiving of corporate and individual taxes for 2020 for accredited tourism stakeholders and the waiving of payments for licenses and permits for 2020 and 2021.
“I hope they can hold a dialogue so they can reach a compromise, recognizing the need for both the national and local governments to raise funds for their own programs, and the survival of the industry,” the lawmaker stressed.