THE SENATE on Tuesday approved on second reading a measure that would grant a general tax amnesty, a day after a similar bill hurdled the Ways and Means committee in the House of Representatives.
Congress hopes to approve as many proposed tax reforms as possible before lawmakers succumb to campaign fever ahead of the May 2019 midterm elections.
The House itself approved on third reading last Monday as Congress resumed session a bill that would give government an even bigger share in miners’ revenues and another measure that would provide a standard framework for determining real property values for taxation purposes.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Tuesday proposed revisions to the general tax amnesty bill regarding the statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) and automatic exchange of information. Mr. Drilon proposed for the SALN as of December 31, 2017 to be presumed correct without qualifications, as prescribed in Senate Bill No. 2059. The proposed law originally disqualified the SALN if it is 30% understated. Under the bill, the SALN and a general tax amnesty return are requirements for a person to avail a tax amnesty on all unpaid taxes up to 2017.
Mr. Drilon also called for deletion of the bill’s proposed amendments to Section 6 of the National Internal Revenue Code regarding the powers of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner to inquire and receive information on bank deposits and other data held by financial institutions for tax purposes.
He also called for the removal of provisions that will allow automatic exchange of tax information between the BIR and foreign tax authorities pursuant to a treaty or international agreement with other countries.
Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, sponsor of the bill and chairman of the Senate Ways and Means committee, accepted Mr. Drilon’s amendments.
The revised House version of the bill also scrapped the provisions on automatic exchange of information when it was approved by the Ways and Means committee last Monday. According to the latest draft of the still-unnumbered House bill as of Nov. 13, a general tax amnesty return and a statement of total assets as of December 31, 2017 is required to avail the amnesty.
The general tax amnesty bill forms part of a bigger tax reform program. The proposed amnesty under Senate Bill No. 2059 covers all unpaid internal revenue taxes — estate taxes, general taxes and delinquent accounts — due up to taxable year 2017.
The Finance department estimates the tax amnesty proposal to yield up to P26 billion in additional revenues, but said its value lies in growing the country’s taxpayer base. — Camille A. Aguinaldo