March 22, 2018, 8:14 am
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DOF sees quick rebound for cars after higher tax

While there may be an initial slowdown in car sales if the proposed increase in  car excise taxes is imppassed into law, the Department of Finance (DOF) is confident of a quick recovery.

The DOF said the industry would continue to grow at a robust pace  as it did in the past two years, when car sales went up by 25 percent.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the industry will continue its “healthy” growth rate even with the proposed adjustments in taxes, given that the manageable price hikes in mass-market vehicles would be readily absorbed by buyers who will, in effect, increase their take-home pay by way of substantially lower personal income taxes.

Dominguez said buyers would also hardly feel the effects of the price adjustments on  mass market cars such as the Toyota Vios and the Mitsubishi Mirage from the proposed excise tax increase because of the flexible financing schemes offered by car dealers that stretches to as long as seven years for some models, which will become even more affordable amid the country’s low interest-rate regime.

“Sales will continue to grow at a healthy rate.  With the increasing incomes of people, the drop in the income taxes, you know, (the car industry) can hit very well another 20 percent a year,” Dominguez said.

“I don’t think (excise tax increase) will kill the industry, it might slow down the sales, but the sales growth is still going to be very healthy,” he added.

Dominguez said  the entire comprehensive tax reform package (CTRP) once passed  will reduce  income taxes.

“Somebody earning half a million pesos (annually) will get to increase his purchasing power by about P27,000. At that time, he can decide: is he going to buy a car, will he put his kid in a better school?” Dominguez said.

Middle-income taxpayers, or those earning between P21,000 and P60,000 a month will get tax relief ranging from P21,800 to P48,000 per year based on DOF computations.

DOF computations also show that the government stands to gain some P31.4 billion in additional revenues from the automobile excise tax adjustments, according to Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua.

 The first package of the DOF-proposed tax reform plan is contained in House Bill No. 4774 that was filed last January by Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua, who chairs the House ways and means committee panel. 

HB 4774 consists of a significant reduction in personal income tax (PIT) rates plus a corresponding set of revenue-compensating measures, which include lowering the rates for estate and donor’s taxes, expanding the value-added tax (VAT) base but retaining exemptions for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, and adjusting automobile and fuel excise taxes.

Chua pointed out for instance, that a Mitsubishi Mirage would be taxed an additional P12,000, but the average car buyer who can afford to purchase this car model would get a tax relief of some P20,000 a year under the tax reform plan.

“In terms of the overall impact, those buying Vios or Innova are also the same people who will benefit significantly from the personal income tax (reductions),” Chua said.

“In summary, once we have seen and taken this excise on automobiles as a package together with the personal income tax, once we consider that there are also many other factors that affect decisions to buy cars, we see that this tax can actually be very progressive, can be affordable and can actually contribute to the (prosperity of our country),” he added. 

 Chua said the currently vibrant car sales will not be adversely affected by the tax reform plan, as proven by historical data, contrary to the concerns aired by certain players of the local automotive industry.

Chua said incremental revenues from the higher car excises, which have not been adjusted for the last 13 years, will be softly earmarked to improve traffic management solutions and fund climate change-resilient infrastructure.

“The effect of low interest rates and a very strong economy can more than offset any increase in prices caused by higher fuel rates and higher car prices resulting from higher taxes,” Chua said. 

“Moreover, the higher take-home pay from lower personal income taxes will also increase purchasing power even as auto and fuel excise taxes are increased progressively,” he added.

As part of the House-revised tax reform package, automobile excise taxes will also be adjusted from 2 percent to 4 percent for cars with a net manufacturing or importation price of up to P600,000.

Vehicles priced P600,000 and above apiece will be taxed higher, with those over P2.1 million to be charged P1,224,000 plus 200 percent in excess of P2.1 million, under HB 4774.

 Exceptions to the excise tax still include buses, trucks, cargo vans, jeepneys, vehicles with single cab chassis, and special purpose vehicles, as the DOF had originally proposed, Chua said.
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