House leader confident of tax reform passage by next week

MANILA — House ways and means committee chairman Dakila Cua has expressed confidence that the House of Representatives will pass the comprehensive tax reform package of the Department of Finance (DOF).

Cua made the statement after emerging from an all-party caucus on Wednesday afternoon.

“We are confident in the leadership of our Speaker and our Majority Leader that with their spearheading the supermajority, almost 100 percent sure na yan na papasa ng Kamara,” Cua told reporters.

House Bill 5636, also known as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), which seeks to lower personal income tax (PIT) rates while raising excise taxes on certain commodities.

In the same press conference, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said the bill will reach the plenary on Monday and will most likely be approved on second reading by Wednesday next week.

Fariñas added the tax reform bill will be approved on third and final reading before the sine die adjournment on May 31 so that it can be transmitted to the Senate.

HB 5636 aims to enhance the progressivity of the tax structure through rationalization of the internal revenue system.

Under the bill, workers earning no more than PHP250,000 annually will be exempted from paying personal income taxes.

To compensate for the revenue losses from the lowering of the PIT rates, some of the offsetting measures include increasing excise tax rates on all petroleum products and automobiles; expanding the value added tax (VAT) base by limiting exemptions to raw food and other necessities; introducing excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages; and improve tax administration measures.

The revenues shall also be allocated for infrastructure, health, education and social protection expenditures. Filane Mikee Cervantes/