House Committee on Poverty Alleviation chair and Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emmi De Jesus on Tuesday (Jan. 31) branded the Department of Finance’s (DOF) tax reform package as “deceptive and anti-poor,” saying the supposed reduction in personal income tax “is just a smokescreen for a tax tsunami directed against poor Filipinos.”
“DOF’s tax reform bundle will ultimately hurt poor Filipino families as it will increase existing taxes on several basic commodities and lift tax exemptions on goods and services directly and indirectly accessed by the poor. The reduction in personal income tax is just a sweetener,” Rep. De Jesus said.
She said while the proposal seeks to lower the top personal income tax rate from 32% to 25% and restructure tax rates, money remittance transactions, low-cost and socialized housing, power transmissions, and other services will be taxed under House Bill 4774.
“Rents, gas prices, jeepney and bus fares, money remittance fees, airfare, electricity bills, among others will increase under the proposed tax reforms. In particular, poor women will bear increased budget pressures if DOF’s tax reform package pushes through. This is a deadly blow on poor struggling Filipinos whose wages are generally stagnant,” De Jesus.
She said personal income tax can be restructured without imposing additional and new taxes on basic goods and services. “Personal income tax reduction should be pursued unconditionally as a social justice issue, not as justification for bigger cuts in family income in form of other taxes.”
De Jesus also criticized the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for actively pushing the government to implement a pro-rich tax system under the guise of “broad-based, comprehensive tax reform.”
“Tax rates on corporate profiles, interest income earned on peso deposits and investments and on property-related transactions will be drastically cut under the proposal. It becomes clear that the ultimate beneficiaries of the proposed tax reform are wealthy families and businesses in the country,” she said.
Gabriela has vowed to launch protest actions in the run-up to March 8 International Women’s Day to oppose the said measure. #