A legislative measure granting the country’s 270,000 medical frontliners income tax discounts passed quickly on second reading in the House of Representatives.
Not a whimper of opposition was heard when the chamber conducted viva voce vote for the second reading consideration of House Bill 8259 that will give the COVID 19 pandemic heroes 25 percent reduction in taxes on their annual earnings.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, principal author of the bill and chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said it is the intention of the bill to “express government’s appreciation for the exemplary service of medical frontliners.”
“In general, the Committee on Ways and Means has taken with serious effort its responsibility to raise revenues for the national government. To express the government’s appreciation for the exemplary service of medical frontliners, we are making a very special exception to this rule,” Salceda explained.
Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said that by quickly approving the measure, the Lower House showed how deeply it appreciates the sacrifices and work extended by frontlilners to their countrymen.
Aside from Salceda, other principal authors of the bill included Deputy Speakers Mikee Romero (1Pacman Partylist) and Deogracias Victor Savellano (NUP, Ilocos Sur); and Reps. Teodorico Haresco (PDP-Laban, Aklan); Arnie Fuentebella (NPC, Camarines Sur); Jose Enrique Garcia (NUP, Bataan); Rosemarie Arenas (PDP-Laban, Pangasinan); Ria Christina Farinas (NP, Ilocos Norte) and Jesus “Bong” (Suntay (PDP-Laban, Quezon City).
Under the bill, income tax due computed on the income of medical frontliners will be reduced by 25 percent.
Salceda assured that safeguards have been provided “to ensure that only those deserving of commendation shall benefit.”
The tax exemption “only benefits persons who are engaged in health-related services and are employed in hospitals, clinics, or other medical institutions, whether public or private, which treat patients infected with COVID-19.”
The bill also covers all medical frontliners exposed to risk, not just doctors or nurses. “Medical frontliners” includes administrative employees, support personnel and staff of medical institutions, regardless of their employment status.
The Department of Finance estimates that this will cover 270,619 individual frontliners.
The bill also limits the tax exemption from 100% to 25% of income tax due for taxable year 2020, reducing the revenue impact to P2.3 Billion. This shall be limited to salary or gross receipts from the exercise of profession or employment received by medical front liners for taxable year 2020.
Salceda added that the bill encourages more medical professionals to be frontliners, in time for the administration of the vaccine. The bill also authorizes the Secretary of Finance to extend the exemption for another six (6) months.
Third reading passage next week is also expected to be unanimous.