Tax amnesty bill due at Palace

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Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)

A TAX amnesty measure was set to be transmitted on Wednesday to the office of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito G. Lambino II said.

At a briefing, Mr. Lambino added that the government estimates forgone revenue of P3.6 billion from granting a value-added tax exemption on medicines for diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.

On the planned tax amnesty program, he said: “The amnesty bill is for transmission today from Congress to OP (Office of the President).”

He added that the proposed measure, which will provide one-time legal relief for those with unpaid taxes for years up to 2017, “will be reviewed before signing.”

Once signed into law, the program will impose an amnesty charge equivalent to a portion of the taxpayers’ outstanding unpaid taxes in exchange for immunity from civil, criminal and administrative penalties.

As for the VAT exemption on drugs prescribed for the treatment and prevention of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, he said: “Our estimate for revenue foregone for these three classes of medicine is P3.6 billion in reduced revenue.”

Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Deputy Commissioner Marissa O. Cabreros said the government is prepared to make up for the losses.

“The BIR can always focus on some other enforcement activities to track other non-paying or not properly paying taxpayers to supplement the needs of the government and raise the proper revenue,” she said.

Asked what sectors will be affected, Ms. Cabreros said: “There are a lot of sectors that the BIR has chosen to focus on, but I don’t want to preempt. Actually, we are due to have a launching of the projects and plans and programs for 2019. I will announce it in advance — it will take place on Feb. 1 at the PICC — the usual yearly campaign of the BIR. We will be announcing there, the focus is for 2019 in terms of enforcement activities, and at the same time, present to the public what has been the performance of BIR in 2018.”

Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique D. Domingo said the implementation of the VAT exemption began on Jan. 1.

“Patients with prescriptions for these medicines may avail of the VAT exemption; manufacturers, distributors or wholesalers or retailers may also avail of the VAT exemption on their sales of drugs provided that they are already in the final consumable form,” he said.

He added that the complete list of VAT-exempt medicines will be made available at drug stores, hospital pharmacies and other authorized sellers of medicines and health products.

“As a reminder to the public, to be able to check if the VAT exemption was provided, please request the official receipt. The phrase ‘VAT EXEMPT’ should be prominently indicated in the invoice of the sale of the prescribed treatment,” Mr. Domingo said. — Arjay L. Balinbin