Alvarez wants to tax church-run schools

MANILA — The government should look into imposing new taxes on schools run by religious institutions in order to shore up more revenues, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said on Monday.

During the hearing of the House ways and means committee, Alvarez said it is high-time for the government to consider taxing revenues from tuition fees derived by church-run schools registered as non-stock, non-profit (NSNP) educational institutions.

Alvarez said the government should determine if these schools are really NSNP educational institutions.

“Yung religious schools, those registered as non-stock, non-profit. Naniniwala ba tayo dun? Kahit sino pwede mag-declare ng non-stock non-profit para hindi makapagbayad (ng tax),” Alvarez said.

(“”Those religious schools, those registered as non-stock, non-profit — do we really believe them? Any school can declare itself as non-stock, non-profit so that they don’t have to pay taxes.”)

“They don’t cater for the poor. Palagi nag-i-increase ng tuition fees yan. Ibig sabihin, hindi yan non-stock non-profit. Profitable business yan,” he added.

(“They don’t cater for the poor. They always increase their tuition fees. That means, they’re not non-stock non-profit. That’s profitable business.”)

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III cited the Constitution which confers tax exemption on all revenues derived by NSNP educational institutions.

“Charitable institutions, churches and parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto, mosques, non-profit cemeteries, and all lands, buildings, and improvements, actually, directly, and exclusively used for religious, charitable, or educational purposes shall be exempt from taxation,” the Constitution read.

Commercial properties of these schools not used for educational, charitable or religious purposes can be taxed, Dominguez noted.

Alvarez cited the need to revisit the tax exemption provision for NSNP institutions in the 1987 Constitution.

In an ambush interview after the hearing, Alvarez said it is unfair that schools run by religious institutions are not taxed on their income from tuition fees as compared to other private schools.

“Other private schools impose lower tuition fees but why do they pay taxes on their income? Meanwhile, these schools run by religious institutions, imposing higher tuition fees, are free from paying income tax,” said Alvarez.