By Russell Louis C. Ku

LEGISLATORS are considering the print media industry’s request for tax relief and are studying alternative ways to provide incentives to the hard-pressed sector, Pangasinan Rep. Christopher V.P. de Venecia said.

Mr. De Venecia, who chairs the House Committee on the Creative Industry and Performing Arts, said further discussions are needed before a bill can be filed in response to the industry’s request to be exempt from Value-Added Tax (VAT) on printing materials like paper and ink, as well as on advertising sales.

He did not elaborate on what alternative incentives might be provided to the industry.

The United Print Media Group Philippines (UPMG), a trade association, has said the exemptions are needed for the survival of the print media industry, which has seen a years-long decline in advertising revenue amid pressure from new media such as the internet.

“We still need to conduct a separate discussion with UPMG on the tax-related proposals. We sympathize with the industry on its desire to get back on its feet,” he said in a statement to BusinessWorld via Viber.

UPMG, in its position paper, also proposed a lower corporate income tax rate of 15% for the industry, against the 25% called for under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law.

It also proposed a tax holiday and refundable tax credits for print subscribers and advertisers along with implementation of a news and current affairs subject in the academic curriculum to help students value journalism and keep them from falling victim to fake news.

Mr. De Venecia said the proposed tax exemptions are likely to be a contentious issue with economic managers, who tend to oppose any erosion of government revenue.

“We also have to work within the new regime of tax incentives under CREATE Law which is performance-based, time-bound, and transparent,” he said.

He said however that any lost revenue will be offset by the social benefits of maintaining a robust industry.

“I believe that print media remains significant for our society… It is alive, enduring, and striving to become better, and to serve the people and the country in its full potential,” Mr. De Venecia added.

UPMG President Barbie L. Atienza said that the government will not lose much revenue from VAT exemptions, estimating the taxes generated from the print industry at around P300 million each year.

BusinessWorld is a member of the UPMG.