Aquino vetoes bill giving hefty discounts, tax perks to centenarians

Posted on May 29, 2013

A BILL granting additional benefits to centenarians has been vetoed by President Benigno S. C. Aquino III as the proposed discounts will be a burden to establishments, a Palace aide said yesterday.

Under the centenarian bill, Filipinos who reach 100 years old will receive a cash gift of ₱100,000 and value-added tax (VAT) exemption of 75% on the sale of certain goods and services.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail F. Valte said the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has been clear on the government’s position that the VAT exemption "may be too heavy without a tax deduction on the part of the establishment."

She noted that Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares attended deliberations on the proposal during the committee hearings to present the government’s opinion on the proposed perks, but the final decision was up to the legislators.

In a separate statement, the bill’s author, Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman (1st district), blamed Senator Francis N. Pangilinan for introducing the 75% discount on goods and services.

The original House bill provided for only 50% discount as an "exception from the value-added tax (VAT), if applicable," and as an amendment to the various Senior Citizens Acts but without removing the tax credit or deduction in favor of concerned establishments so that they will not incur business losses," Mr. Lagman said in a statement.

Republic Act No. 9257, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003, provides a "twenty percent (20%) discount and exemption from the value-added tax (VAT), if applicable, on the sale of the following goods and services from all establishments, for the exclusive use and enjoyment or availment of the senior citizen."

The discount is applied on the purchase of medicines; medical services; public transport; domestic air fare; hotels/lodging establishments, restaurants, recreational centers; admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses and concert halls, circuses, leisure and amusement; and funeral and burial services for the death of senior citizens.

Mr. Pangilinan’s version was adopted by the bicameral conference committee, and later by both chambers, while in a hurry to go on break for the May elections, Mr. Lagman said.

"Since there was no more time to harmonize the difference between the House and Senate bills through a bicameral conference, the House of Representatives was constrained to concur with the Senate amendment," he added.

Mr. Lagman said about 7,000 centenarians would have to wait for additional benefits due to the veto of the bill. -- N. M. Gonzales