The House of Representatives on Monday passed on final reading the bill granting the country’s 270,000 medical frontliners a 25 percent discount on the taxes covering their earnings last year when the COVID 19 pandemic hit the country.
The vote for approval of House Bill 8259 was unanimous, with all 235 members present at the plenary session declaring “ayes” during the roll call balloting.
To be known as the “Handog sa mga Bayaning Lumaban Kontra COVID-190 Act” (Gift to Heroes who Fought Against COVID-19 Act) , HB 8259 consolidated six legislative measures proposing to extend to doctors, nurses and others working in allied medical fields tax incentives for their efforts in protecting their countrymen against the COVID 19 pandemic.
Deputy Speaker and 1PACMAN Partylist Rep. Michael Romero noted that he filed his bill several months before COVID-19 wrought havoc to public health. His proposal, HB 984, was originally meant for medical practitioners who render free professional services to the indigent.
Romero said he willingly supported the bill that redirected the purpose of his proposal.
Other authors of the bill included Deputy Speaker Deogracias Victor Savellano and Rufus Rodriguez; and Reps. Manuel Cabochan (Magdalo Partylist); Luisa Lloren Cuaresma (NPC, Nueva Vizcaya) and Joy Myra Tambunting (NUP, Paranaque City).
Romero said he expects health care workers in the country to continue extending their expertise to Filipinos suffering from the dreaded COVID 19.
According to the House official he will continue to push for measures that would grant tax incentives to members of the medical profession who provide free services to indigent patients even after the pandemic has passed.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said HB 8259 expresses the “appreciation” of both government and the Lower House for the exemplary service demonstrated by medical frontliners in bravely taking care of the sick notwithstanding the dangers they faced.
“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 said.
Under the bill, 25% discount on the income tax dues of medical frontliners for taxable year 2020 will be extended by government.
Salceda also says that there are safeguards “to ensure that only those deserving of commendation shall benefit,”
He explained that 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 (DOF) estimates that this will cover 270,619 frontliners. The bill also limits the coverage of the tax exemption to salary or compensation, as well as the gross receipts from the exercise of profession or employment received by medical front liners for taxable year 2020.