Bicam panel agrees to SALN or total assets option for tax amnesty legislation

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THE bicameral conference committee reconciling the tax amnesty bills agreed to give taxpayers the option to submit either a statement of total assets or a statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), along with a general tax amnesty return, when availing of the amnesty.

The committee had yet to approve the bill on Monday due to disagreement on the provisions covering the amnesty’s exemptions. A number of other provisions have been reconciled, such as the general tax amnesty requirements.

House Bill No. 8554 requires the submission of the statement of total assets when filing for a general tax amnesty, with amnesty payments set at 2% of assets, while Senate Bill No. 2059 requires a SALN, at a corresponding rate of 5% of net worth.

Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, who chairs his chamber’s ways and means committee, said a compromise was reached among the House and Senate representatives to the bicameral conference committee to offer both requirements as options.

He said providing options for taxpayers will encourage more Filipinos to avail of the amnesty. He added that this mechanism would also increase collections for the government.

“Our theory is to make the amnesty as attractive as possible. We want the people to be encouraged to legitimize any transactions on any wealth that has been accrued. Many of these are not collected by the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) so it’s actually to clean up the system and also raise revenue for the government,” he told reporters.

“A successful amnesty is premised on the availment by the large majority of taxpayers. So the more attractive it is, providing an option will definitely make it more attractive,” he added.

If a taxpayer opts for the statement of total assets, the general amnesty tax rate will be 2% of his or her total assets as of Dec. 31, 2017. If the taxpayer provided a SALN, the rate will be 5% of his or her net worth as of the same date.

“That’s the compromise. We adopted both,” Mr. Angara said.

The tax amnesty bill provides taxpayers a one-time amnesty for estate taxes, unpaid general taxes and delinquencies. It forms part of the so-called Package 1B, consisting of provisions that had been stricken from Republic Act No. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) law.

Aside from the provisions on the general tax amnesty documents, the House and Senate panels also agreed to include the Bureau of Customs (BoC) collections in the bill’s general tax amnesty coverage.

They also removed a provision from the House Bill which disqualifies the total assets option if assets are 30% or more understated.

The Senate contingent was composed of Mr. Angara, President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto, Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, and Senator Nancy S. Binay-Angeles. Meanwhile, the House contingent included ways and means committee chair Estrelita B. Suansing, Quirino Rep. Dakila Carlo E. Cua, Iloilo Rep. Arthur R. Defensor, Jr., Deputy Speaker Prospero A. Pichay, Jr. Batangas Rep. Lianda B. Bonilla, and 1-PACMAN partylist Rep. Michael L. Romero. — Camille A. Aguinaldo