Groups doubt poor to get cushion from tax effects

Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2018 12:45 PM

MANILA - A private think-tank and an employer's group on Monday cast doubt on the sufficiency of mitigation measures to shield the poor from the impact of tax reform.

The government has programmed cash transfers for the poorest of the poor to help them cope with higher prices of fuel and sugar-sweetened drinks that took effect last Jan. 1.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said tax reform would raise P786 billion in revenue over 5 years to help fund government services, including President Rodrigo Duterte's massive infrastructure program.

Sonny Africa, executive director of IBON Foundation said there might not be enough staff work done to implement the mitigation programs.

The poorest 60 percent of Filipino households, who earn P5,000 to P10,000 per month, will lose anywhere from P650 to as much as P1,900 per year due to the new taxes, according to IBON.

IBON based the estimate on two assumptions: that they don’t benefit from lower income taxes and the government is not able to fully implement the cash transfer of P2,400 per year or P200 per month, Africa said.

"Walang duda, Robbin Hood ito (This is Robin Hood, no doubt). Taking away money from the pockets of many poor people, to put it in to pockets of the rich. They tax the poor much more than they (the poor) can afford," he said.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TCUP) agreed.

“Kapag hindi effective yung safety nets na kaakibat ng TRAIN, as I said, lalawak ang poverty, people will feel the pinch, bubulusok ang popularity ni President Duterte…” TCUP Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said.

(If safety nets under TRAIN are not effective, as I said, poverty will widen. People will feel the pinch and President Duterte's popularity will suffer.)