Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday, April 9, renewed his call for lawmakers to expedite the passage of the bill providing tax exemption on the honoraria, travel allowances and other benefits that would be granted to teachers, and other poll workers in the upcoming May 2022 national and local elections.
Gatchalian was referring to Senate Bill No. 1193, which he filed in 2019. The bill seeks to further amend Section 32 of Republic Act No. 8424, or the National Internal Bureau Code of 1997, so that they can receive the full amount of their allowances and other benefits.
The bill also seeks to exclude poll workers’ honoraria and allowances from gross income. Currently, a five percent tax is imposed on poll workers’ election payment.
“Maliban sa pagpapatuloy ng edukasyon sa gitna ng pandemya, ang ating mga guro, opisyal, at kawani ng mga pampublikong paaralan ay nagsisilbing frontliners upang matiyak ang maayos at malinis na halalan (Aside from ensuring the continuity of education in the country amidst the pandemic, our public school teachers, officials and staff serve as front liners to ensure that the conduct of our elections would be safe and orderly),” Gatchalian said in a statement.
“Hindi biro ang trabaho nila mula sa preparasyon hanggang sa bilangan ng mga balota (Their job, starting from the preparation right down to the counting of votes is no joke),” he said.
“Kaya maituturing natin itong isang paraan ng pasasalamat para sa kanilang dedikasyon at sakripisyo (That’s why we consider this measure an expression of gratitude towards their dedication and sacrifice),” he added.
Under the Election Service Reform Act or Republic Act No. 1075, the chairpersons of Electoral Boards are each entitled to receive P6,000.
Members of electoral boards, on the other hand, receive P5,000 each. Meanwhile, Department of Education (DepEd) Supervisor Officials (DESO) each receive P4,000 while support staff receive P2,000 each.
The Senate Committee on Basic Education Arts and Culture chief also pointed out that despite their hard work, resourcefulness and perseverance, poll workers’ honoraria and allowances are subject to income tax if their annual taxable income exceeds the P250,000 threshold under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
These poll workers are also required to go to their respective local Commission on Election (Comelec) offices to claim their rightful compensation—another additional effort and transportation expenses—and to submit a declaration of tax exemptions for those earning below the P250,000/year limit.
“Giving our poll workers, especially our public school teachers, the full amount of their election honoraria and allowances is the best way we can show them our gratitude and appreciation for ensuring clean, honest and orderly elections in the country, as well as encourage and reward volunteerism in our election process,” Gatchalian said in the explanatory note of his bill.