Lower House passes bill exempting poll workers' honoraria, allowances from income tax

The House of Representatives voted unanimously for the third and final reading approval of a bill that will exempt from income tax the honoraria, allowances and other financial benefits received by election workers.

Poll workers

Authored by members of the Makabayan bloc and Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma, House Bill 9652 received the affirmative votes of all 202 House members present during the first day of the resumption of regular sessions on Monday, August 23.

The bill proposes to acknowledge the service of persons deployed by the Commission on Elections to assist in the holding of elections.

Public school teachers who who are usually assigned as members of the board of election inspectors will benefit from the measure.

To be exempted from income taxes are honoraria, travel allowances and other such benefits that may be granted by the Comelec for the election services rendered by poll workers.

The Comelec has disclosed that in the 2019 mid-term elections, it withheld P56.8 million in income taxes of poll workers.

In pushing for approval of the measure, Cuaresma said she is confident that the measure will “allow teachers to fully enjoy the amount of compensation being paid to them.

The Makabayan bloc lamented that while Republic Act 10756 or the Election Service Reform Act resulted in the increase in honoraria, allowances and other compensation for volunteers in elections, the imposition of income tax has destroyed “the spirit and intent of the ESRA”.

“It should be noted that volunteers for election service exhaust their honoraria and allowances for travel, food, and other expenses before, during and even after election day because they are required to attend trainings, deliver the election paraphernalia to and from the Comelec offices and precincts, and perform other election related tasks,” the Leftist group said.

The Makabayan bloc stressed the urgency of passing a bill that would exempt the said honoraria and pay of poll workers from income tax.

The Makabayan bloc is composed of Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat of Bayan Muna; France Castro of ACT Teachers Partylist; Arlene Brosas of Gabriela Women’s Partylist and Kabataan partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.