Gatchalian pushes for bill exempting poll workers' allowances from taxes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 09 2021 05:37 PM | Updated as of Apr 09 2021 07:58 PM

Election officers assist a policeman during the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls in Manila, May 14, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (UPDATE) - Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday pushed for a bill that would exempt from taxes honoraria, travel allowances, and other benefits granted to teachers who would serve as election officials and staff in future elections.

Gatchalian's Senate Bill No. 1193, filed in November 2019, seeks to amend Republic Act No. 8424 or the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 to allow election workers to receive their allowances without deductions.

"Hindi biro ang trabaho nila mula sa preparasyon hanggang sa bilangan ng mga balota," said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

(Their work from the preparation up to the counting of ballots is no joke.)

"Maituturing natin itong [panukala na] isang paraan ng pasasalamat para sa kanilang dedikasyon at sakripisyo" he said in a statement ahead of the 2022 national elections.

(This proposal can be considered as a token of gratitude for poll workers' dedication and sacrifice.)

In the bill's explanatory note, Gatchalian cited how "the allowances and honoraria due these poll workers remain to be subject to income tax if their annual taxable income exceeds the P250,000.00 threshold under the TRAIN Law." 

Teachers who serve in elections also have to personally claim their compensation from Commission on Elections offices, "which again requires additional effort and transportation expenses," and file a tax exemption declaration if they earn below the said threshold. 

"Giving our poll workers, especially our public school teachers, the full amount of their election honoraria and allowances is the best way we can show them our gratitude and appreciation for ensuring clean, honest and orderly elections in the country, as well as encourage and reward volunteerism in our election process," Gatchalian said. 

Under the Election Service Reform Act, chairpersons of Electoral Boards receive a P6,000 honoraria, while its members are entitled to P5,000 each.

Department of Education Supervisor Officials (DESO) receive P4,000 each, while each support staff gets P2,000 for election.

While the bill was filed about 2 years ago, it has yet to hurdle the Senate Ways and Means Committee, according to Gatchalian's office.

— report from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

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