'Philippines has highest income tax rate in ASEAN'

by Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 13 2014 05:54 PM | Updated as of Aug 14 2014 07:51 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino workers pay the highest income tax in the entire Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, according to the Tax Management Association of the Philippines.

A position paper submitted by the TMAP to Congress, where several measures to bring down the tax rate or tax bracket are being tackled, showed the Philippines has the highest applicable personal income tax rate.

A Filipino employee earning a little over P500,000 is taxed 32 percent while his Thai counterpart earning the equivalent income is only taxed 10 percent.

A worker earning an equivalent P500,000 in Singapore pays only 2 percent income tax. In Vietnam, the tax rate is 20 percent while in Malaysia, it is 11 percent.

In Cambodia, the same income gets 20 percent income tax while in Laos, a 12 percent income tax is levied.

In Brunei, workers who earn the equivalent amount of P500,000 do not have to pay any income taxes.

TMAP President Rina Manuel said it's really time to lower the tax bracket or amend the tax bracket to make it equitable.

"Yung corporations are only subjected to 30 percent tax rate while individuals are taxed 32 percent. Ang corporations may deductions pa, while ang empleyado personal exemptions lang at additional for the children," Manuel said.

Also included in the TMAP's position paper is the tax exemption of marginal income earners, whose income are actually small yet are taxed 5 percent, the minimum income tax level.

While a minimum wage earner is tax-exempt, getting additional income no matter how small in excess of the minimum wage, the whole income will now become taxable.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue warned smaller tax collections could hurt government spending, which is crucial to drive economic growth.

"As far as BIR is concern, any tax eroding measure should be accompanied by a reduction of the revenue goal. I think it is reasonable and but logical that if you lower tax rate, amount collectible will go down or there will automatically be an amount that cannot be collected because there is nothing to collect," the BIR said.

"So if the final decision is to reduce tax rates, you cannot expect the BIR to collect from air, you will have to reduce the revenue goal. It is like a household, if someone decide to stop working, you cannot keep on spending the way you use to do because eventually you will go bankrupt or you do not expect people to keep on lending to someone who is a credit risk," it added.