July 18, 2018, 6:25 pm
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Solon to question TRAIN approval before SC

A LEFT-LEANING congressman yesterday vowed to question before the Supreme Court how the House of Representatives ratified the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill on Wednesday night.

The Senate and the House of Representatives ratified the bicameral report late Wednesday night.

Rep. Antonio Tinio (PL, ACT) said the measure was ratified “with barely 10 people on the floor and despite my very clear objections due to obvious lack of quorum.”

“Tonight’s ratification of the TRAIN by the House of Representatives was a total farce and travesty of so-called representative democracy,” Tinio said. “Copies  …  were not even on hand. Since there was no quorum and no actual vote was taken, the alleged ratification is clearly invalid.”

The measure, which was approved in the bicameral level on the same night, seeks to lower the income tax to increase the take home pay of employees while increasing taxes on petroleum and other products.

Tinio complained that the presiding officer, on the motion of deputy majority leader Rep. Arthur Defensor Jr. (PDP-Laban, Iloilo), proceeded to adopt the final report of the tax reform bill’s bicameral conference committee despite his objections.

Quorum became a problem since many congressmen reportedly attended the ruling party PDP-Laban’s Christmas party in a hotel in Pasay City, which President Duterte also attended.

“Asaan ba kamo ang mga kinatawan? Nasa Christmas party ng PDP-Laban sa Sofitel ang karamihan, kasama mismo si Du30. Ganyan sa Kongreso – may boto kahit walang tao, nagpa-party sa five-star hotel habang nagpapataw ng pahirap na mga buwis sa mamamayan,” he said.

(“Where are the people’s representatives? Most of them are in the Christmas party of the PDP-Laban in Sofitel, with President Duterte. That’s what Congress is like – there’s a vote even if no one is present, they party in a five-star hotel while taxes are levied on the poor,” he said.” 

Tinio said “the brazen railroading of this TRAIN wreck on the poor exposes yet again the blatant disregard of the Duterte administration and its supermajority in Congress for even the most minimal standards of democracy.”

Under the measure, the first P250,000 annual taxable income will be exempt from income tax, while the tax exemption for 13th month pay and other bonuses was raised to P90,000.

Among the new provisions in the TRAIN bill approved by the bicameral conference committee is the increase in the coal excise tax from P10 per metric ton to P50 per metric ton in the first year of implementation, P100 in the second year, and P150 in the third and succeeding years.

This latest version introduced a reform in tobacco excise tax, where the rate is proposed to be hiked from the current level of P30, to P32.50 from January to June 2018; P35 from July 2018 to December 2019; P37.50 from 2020 to 2021, P40 from 2022 to 2023. The package also provides for a four-percent annual indexation from 2023 onwards.

TRAIN also calls for the increase in the excise tax of petroleum products: LPG (from zero) to P1 in 2018, P2 in 2019 and P3 in 2020 onwards; diesel (also from zero) to P2,50, P4,50 and P6; and regular and unleaded premium gasoline from the current P4.35 to P7, P9 and P10.

On automotive, the bicameral conference committee approved a four-tiered excise tax with the beginning tax rate at 4 percent for those priced up to P600,000, double than the current tax rate of two percent.

The package exempts electric vehicles while hybrids will be taxed half the rate of those fossil fuel-fed vehicles.

Pick-up vans, which are commonly used by businessmen and entrepreneurs for agricultural purposes, are also exempt.

Other provisions in the latest version of the TRAIN include the reduced and simplified estate tax to a flat tax rate of six percent based on the net value of the estate; reduced and simplified donor’s tax to a flat tax rate of six percent on net donations for gifts exceeding P250,000 regardless of relationship between donor and donee; imposition of a tax of P6 per liter for beverages using caloric and non-caloric sweeteners, and P12 per liter for beverages using high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), adjustments in the petroleum excise tax; simpler tax scheme for the automobile excise tax; five percent excise tax on cosmetic procedures solely aimed towards improving, altering, or enhancing the patient’s appearance; and double the excise tax rates of all non-metallic minerals and quarry resources, and all metallic minerals, among others.
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