THE House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the measure increasing the tax-exemption cap for 13th-month pay and other bonuses to P70,000 from the present P30,000.
At least 250 lawmakers have voted to pass House Bill (HB) 4970 at the lower chamber late Friday.
HB 4970 is seeking to amend the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997, as amended.
The bill seeks to exclude the 13th-month pay and other Christmas bonuses from the computation of gross income for the purposes of income taxation.
Under the bill, the 16 authors sought to increase the amount of tax-exempt bonuses for all employees in both the private and public sectors.
It also mandates the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue to increase the threshold every three years based on the consumer price index and inflation.
Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima earlier warned Congress that the social services programs of the government, particularly the national government’s flagship Conditional Cash Transfer Program or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, would be affected once the proposal increasing the tax-exemption cap for 13th-month pay and other bonuses to P70,000 from the present P30,000 is passed into a law.
He said that Congress should study this proposal as the government will lose P40-billion to P60-billion revenue if House Bill 4970 is approved.
Meanwhile, Liberal Party Rep. Romero Quimbo of Marikina, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said his panel is set to consolidate nine bills that seek the restructuring of the individual and the corporate income-tax systems.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said now that the second reading of the proposed 2015 national budget has been done, the House can focus on its other legislative priorities in the coming months.
“I am confident that with the grit, fortitude and unity that we have exhibited in the past few days, many of us soldiering on till morning to finish deliberations on the budget in plenary, we shall accomplish what we have set out to do,” said the Speaker.
He said the House will have a very full legislative plate in the coming months with the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro basic law, Resolution of both Houses 1 or the economic Charter change, and Philippine Competition Act.
Congress takes a three-week break starting from September 27 to October 19.
“The proposed Bangsamoro basic law will demand our best efforts and attention, so that we can arrive at an informed consensus on the measure, guided by the aspirations for enduring peace and ensuring sustainable development within a constitutional framework,” he said.
Belmonte added, “The amendments to the economic provisions of the constitution, together with game-changing economic measures such as the Philippine Competition Act that seeks to level the playing field for investments, and the rationalization of the country’s income-tax system, among others.”
He added: “These measures need to be addressed with dispatch before the end of the second regular session to allow time for Senate action.”
Belmonte said that other important reform measures targeting the electoral system, the power industry, and the regulatory regimes on the development and utilization of our natural resources, particularly the Mining Act will be prioritized in the lower chamber.