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Solons optimistic on tax cut, SSS pension hike

Senators are optimistic two popular measures would get approved and enacted into law under the Duterte administration.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said he is glad that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has made the commitment to support the passage of the income tax reform bill which he, as chair of the Senate ways and means committee, has been pushing since 2013.

“We’ve been pushing it since 2013-2014, but we’re happy. I think it’s too bad that the Aquino administration did not make it a priority because there was the fiscal space to make it happen and because of their good fiscal management,” said Angara in a recent interview.

Angara said he is happy that the incoming Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez stance on the need to reform the current tax system and adjust the tax brackets to factor in inflation resonated with his own.

“What I’m happy about is that incoming Finance Secretary Dominguez has agreed basically with what we’ve been saying for a long time that if you earn P500,000 and you’re in the top tax bracket, that’s too much. And it’s been frozen at 1997 levels since. Your money during the 1997, do not hold the same value with what you’re holding right now. The value of R1 before is not the same with P1 we earn right now. That’s the basic philosophy of our amendments,” he said.

Angara said it is quite unfortunate that the Aquino administration has rejected the proposal when it has billions of underspent money to support the measure.

“The government had money. The only question was whether they wanted to give that dividend to the public.

Unfortunately, they decided against it,” he said.

“But I think having been there for six (6) years, I mean there’s something of value to that advice giving to the incoming administration. They can tell them, hey these taxes are difficult to collect, so I think they should take that for what it’s worth, at that face value and try to move forward for that,” Angara said.

Senator Cynthia Villar said she is positive that the income tax reform bill would get Duterte’s nod together with the measure that seeks to increase the Social Security (SS) pension of Social Security System (SSS) members.

The measure was approved by Congress but was vetoed by President Aquino last January, 2016.

“That (income tax reform bill) and the bill on SS pension hike would automatically be re-filed,” Villar said. (Hannah L. Torregoza)