DOF backs DU30 push for lifting of bank secrecy

THE Department of Finance (DOF) has expressed support for the passage of the Tax Amnesty Act of 2019, but pointed out that President Duterte is still encouraging Congress to pass a general amnesty law with provisions on lifting of bank secrecy and automatic exchange of information (AEOI).

In a text message to reporters, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that the DOF applauds the recent passage of the Tax Amnesty Act of 2019, calling it a landmark bill which aims to encourage taxpayers to pay the right taxes, and be more empowered to be good taxpayers in the future.

“We applaud the passage of the Tax Amnesty Act of 2019. With this landmark legislation, availers may now free up property that have long been estate-locked and allow heirs to make good economic use of the properties they have inherited. This also allows those that have long-due liabilities and pending criminal cases to start anew, scot-free. We hope that in availing of this amnesty—a very, very generous reprieve from the State, taxpayers would feel more encouraged to pay the right taxes, and be more empowered to be good taxpayers in the future,” Dominguez said.

However, he noted that Duterte is encouraging Congress to pass another general amnesty law bearing measures in line with the lifting of the bank secrecy law in certain cases, and setting the framework for complying with international standards on exchange of information, among others.

It was reported over the weekend that Duterte partially vetoed the general amnesty provision under the Tax Amnesty Act of 2019, retaining only the provisions on estate tax amnesty and the amnesty on delinquency taxes.

“The DOF supports a general tax amnesty for everyone with pending tax cases; however, like what we have been advocating in Congress, the President saw it fit that this happens with the corresponding tax administration measures to strengthen enforcement against current tax evasion—the lifting of bank secrecy laws and setting the legal framework for the automatic exchange of information mechanisms. Thus, the general tax amnesty provisions were vetoed. The President thus encourages Congress to pass another general amnesty law with these provisions,” he added.

It was pointed out that under the tax amnesty measure, the President also vetoed the provision on a one-time settlement of estates for properties under multiple unsettled estates, as well as the provision on the presumption of correctness of estate tax amnesty returns.

The signed measure, Republic Act 11213, seeks to enhance revenue administration and collection by granting an amnesty on all unpaid internal revenue taxes imposed by the national government for taxable year 2017 and prior years. This is with respect to estate tax and other internal revenue taxes and tax on delinquencies.

“We will work with Congress to pass a general tax amnesty with the proper safeguards, such as the lifting of bank secrecy provisions and the AEOI, if not in this Congress, then in the next. We shall work with them, like we always have, to have it passed immediately,” Dominguez said.


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