Economist-solon Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda says he is proud of the part he played in enacting the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, which has placed more cash in the pockets of Filipinos who relatively earn less.
Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, also cited the law for its role in keeping the country afloat when it was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"TRAIN was a structural reform. It should be judged for what it did for the country, long-term," Salceda said of the law, which was signed by then-president Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 19, 2017. It came into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
"I am proud of my leading role in pushing for that reform, and I am confident that the passing of time will paint that reform in an even brighter light," the Bicolano said.
The veteran lawmaker said that personal income tax (PIT) reduction was at the core of TRAIN. This created a windfall for workers in terms of their salaries.
"Actually, TRAIN also increased income taxes on the highest-earning Filipinos, but decreased income taxes for everybody else. That is the principle of progressivity at the heart of the reform. It was the point -- to shift the burden of taxation from income towards consumption, so that those who consume more goods with negative externalities, such as oil, cars, and coal, will pay more," he explained.
Salceda also highlighted the positive impact TRAIN had on the country amid its struggles at the onset of the pandemic.
"During the pandemic, when oil prices tanked, the specific taxes on petroleum products also helped keep the government afloat. Fuel marking also helped boost oil tax revenues by making it easier to catch smuggled petroleum," he said.
Despite all this, Salceda reckoned that TRAIN "is still incomplete".
"The tax administration provisions for e-invoicing and VAT refunds still need to be implemented in full. These will make the payment of taxes easier and more convenient," he said.
"I also strongly believe that the automobile taxes that came out in the enacted version of the TRAIN law were too low. Exempting double-cab pick-up trucks from automobile taxes was a big and costly mistake -- to the tune of P14 billion in annual revenue losses that accrue mostly to the well-off," he said.
"I am committed to correcting that mistake and reverting to the TRAIN version I proposed, which includes that tax," noted Salceda.