THE SENATE unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill that makes private schools eligible for a concessional tax rate to help them recover from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

Senate Bill No. 2407 amends Section 27(B) of the National Internal Revenue Code to make explicit the industry’s eligibility for a temporary 1% tax under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act.

The measure also grants non-profit hospitals and proprietary educational institutions a tax rate of 10% once the temporary relief measures expire. Without such concessions, these institutions are liable for the regular corporate rate of 25%.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue had issued a ruling that restricted the eligibility of private schools to non-profits based on its interpretation of the law, a ruling that has since been withdrawn.

The CREATE Act had provided for a concessional tax rate of 1% for enterprises hit hard by the pandemic, with the rate in force between July 2020 and June 2023.

“Private schools are the government’s partner in education. This partnership is even more important today, as our nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted educational systems and the formal learning of our current generation of students,” Senator Pilar Juliana S. Cayetano said in a statement.

Ms. Cayetano noted that many private schools are in a critical state, citing data from the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines showing that enrollment among member-schools has declined by 60% compared to 2020.

According to the Department of Education’s Learning Enrollment Survey Quick Count data, as of Sept. 13, the enrollment in private schools was 1.4 million, down 57% from a year earlier, and down 66% from 2019. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan