THE chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means called on President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to certify as urgent the “Ease of Paying Taxes” (EOPT) bill, which is currently pending in the Senate.
According to Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente “Joey” Sarte Salceda, certifying the proposed measure (Senate Bill 2224) as an urgent measure will allow the bill to be approved on second reading and third reading in a day in the Senate plenary.
The House has already approved its version under House Bill 4125.
“I think it’s time to modernize the way we administer taxes,” Salceda said, adding he believes that “bringing the tax system into the 21st century” will be Marcos’s legacy.
“So, respectfully, I request the President to certify this measure as urgent, considering that he has already mentioned this as a priority in both Sonas [State of the Nation Addresses],” Salceda said.
The lawmaker added that “most of the key issues have already been settled anyway, including the concern among enterprises that the shift to an invoice-only system would cost those who are unable to get their receivables on time.”
The measure is in the period of interpellation in the Senate.
The EOPT Act is expected to simplify tax filings for small-scale and medium-sized enterprises, to allow most tax processes to be done online, facilitate the shift to an invoice system to accelerate VAT refunds, and create a special division in the Bureau of Internal Revenue for small and medium taxpayers.
“We are a highly global people; and the EOPT will allow taxpayers abroad, especially OFWs [overseas Filipino workers], to update their tax records and even file for TINs anywhere. Many of them want to invest here or settle land issues here, but they cannot, because they can’t do their taxes remotely,” Salceda said.
“As a result, we’ve been missing out on potential OFW investments, all while we try to attract FDI and make foreign capital come easier. It’s time we put family first,” he added.
Salceda also said the House delegation plans to introduce the value-added tax (VAT) refund for tourists, which the Private Sector Advisory Council identified as a priority measure and provisions against syndicated or large-scale use of fraudulent receipts, which the BIR requested from Congress. Both measures have already made it past the House as HB 7292 and HB 8144, respectively.
According to Salceda, he has discussed the matter with his counterpart, Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, “who is considering it.”
“Hopefully, his colleagues will also agree. The VAT refund for tourists will boost tourist spending and align us with international best practice under the destination principle for VAT. And the anti-tax racketeering provision will clamp down on a practice that has cost the national coffers at least P100 billion annually based on the BIR’s estimates,” Salceda said.
The lawmaker said the Lower House has “assurances from our Senate counterparts that this is a priority for their leadership, and we expect to meet in the bicameral conference committee very soon, hopefully right before the House begins budget hearings.”