Tourism stakeholders ask for deferment of local taxes

Published January 21, 2021, 7:20 PM

by Hanah Tabios

Tourism stakeholders are requesting for the deferment on the payment of local business taxes this year due to the current state of the losing tourism industry.

(photo from Facebook)

In a letter to Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año dated Jan. 18, 2021, Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) president Jose Clemente III said the group received reports that various local governments have been issuing assessment fees for business taxes for tourism stakeholders which most are unable to pay amid the losses incurred by the COVID-19 crisis. 

“Most only earned income during the first quarter of 2020 with nothing else after that,” Clemente said in his letter.

“Tourism has been basically shut down since mid-March of last year and most do not have resources to pay for those assessments,” he added. 

In a separate message to the Manila Bulletin, Clemente said the reports mostly came from travel agencies and tour operators who said that some LGUs are basing their assessment fees on 2019 income which does not take into consideration business conditions of 2020.

“We really did not have revenues last year which is why we are asking for the deferment of business taxes as far as the 2021 business permit is concerned,” he said. 

Asked what LGUs in particular, he only said “treatment has been varied.”

“Some have been lenient and made concessions while some want to use the 2019 revenues as reference. We feel this is unfair because 2020 was basically a washout for the tourism industry,” he said.

In a separate letter to Año dated Jan. 19, 2020, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat endorsed the letter of the TCP, as well as a similar letter from the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) requesting the same. 

PTAA has 612-member travel agencies across the country, most of which are DOT-accredited tourism establishments. 

“It may be recalled that in one of the IATF meetings, it was discussed that the DILG would encourage LGUs to defer payment of local business taxes, in consideration of dire financial straits of certain businesses,” Puyat said. 

“In this regard, we hope that your good office may review the attached requests, and extend any possible assistance to our tourism stakeholders as we work towards the recovery of the tourism industry,” she added. 

Due to entry restrictions, the country received only 1,323,956 foreign visitors from January to December 2020, a decline of 83.97 percent from the 8,260,913 arrivals in the same period in 2019.

Total receipts generated from inbound tourism for January to December 2020 registered an estimated P81.40 billion, a decrease of 83.12 percent from the visitor receipts of P482.16 billion recorded in the same period in 2019.