THE SENATE approved on third and final reading the measure seeking to extend the estate tax amnesty  for another two years, after low revenues generated by the program so far.

With 23 affirmative votes, the Senate approved Senate Bill No. 2208 which sought to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 11213 or the Tax Amnesty Act by extending the application period to June 14, 2023.

RA 11213, which was set to expire on June 15, 2021, gives a one-time opportunity for taxpayers to settle their unpaid estate taxes as of Dec. 31, 2017.

In her sponsorship speech on May 18, Senator Pilar Juliana S. Cayetano, chairperson of the Ways and Means committee, said applications for estate tax amnesty fell due to the lockdown restrictions.

She also noted the low revenue collection from the estate tax amnesty program, which stood at P2.5 billion, still below the P6.28-billion target, citing data presented by the Bureau of Internal Revenue during an earlier hearing.

“The Committee deems it appropriate that we extend the period of availment of the estate tax amnesty for another two years, in order to allow Filipinos who have not been able to affordably settle their outstanding tax liabilities during the period, to do so,” Ms. Cayetano said.

The Senate version removed the “proof of settlement” requirement that the heirs have to submit as it is one of the major reasons for non-availment of the estate tax amnesty, she said.

Senators also adopted the amendment to the committee-level approved bill, deleting the provision which stated that if the estate has properties still in the name of a decedent or donor, the present holder, heirs, or administrators shall only file one estate tax amnesty return.

The said provision was flagged by Finance Undersecretary Antonette C. Tionko during the hearing early this month as it was vetoed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte when he signed RA 11213 in February 2019.

The House of Representatives approved its counterpart House Bill 7068 in September last year.

House Ways and Means committee Chair Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda sent a note on May 20 to House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco to ratify the Senate version of the bill. A copy of the letter was released last Friday.

The House version reinstated the provision that was vetoed by Mr. Duterte in signing the law and retained the proof of settlement requirement. It also sought to extend the amnesty by two years, by changing the deadline from the original “two years from the effectivity of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of this Act” to four years. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas