House panel approves tax exemption on poll service income

Teachers and other poll workers who received allowances or honoraria for rendering service during national and local elections will be exempted from taxes for such earnings under a bill endorsed for plenary approval by the House Committee on Ways and Means.

In a committee meeting held Monday, May 17, the House panel chaired by Albay Rep. Joey Sarte-Salceda unanimously approved a still unnumbered bill that consolidated two legislative measures pending before the House panel.

House Bill 225 was authored by Makabayan bloc members while Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma is the principal author of HB 5485.

The bill proposes to exempt poll workers for any income derived from their services during elections.

Public school teachers are usually tapped to be members of the Board of Election Inspectors. They receive honoraria and other financial benefits that are subjected to income and other withholding traxes.

In her sponsorship speech of the bill, Castro said the imposition of taxes on poll service was provided by the Bureau of internal Revenue as it classified the earnings as “income’.

She said this action by the BIR “destroys the “spirit and intent of Republic Act 10756 or the Election Service Reform Act.

During the committee meeting, panel members unanimously agreed to insert an additional section in Section 32 of RA 10756 to exclude in the computation of gross income the honraria, travel allowance and other benefits granted by the Commission on Elections to persons rendering election service pursuant to ESRA.

A Comelec data showed that taxes withheld by the BIRA during the 2019 National and Local Elections totaled P56.8 million coming from the amounts paid by the poll body to teachers and other poll workers.