Duterte asks Congress to pass another tax amnesty bill, including lifting of bank secrecy for fraud cases
President Rodrigo Duterte has urged Congress to pass another general tax amnesty bill that includes lifting of bank secrecy for fraud cases.
This was after Duterte exercised his line-item veto power in Republic Act No. 11213, also known as the Tax Amnesty Act.
In an 11-page veto message, which Malacanang released to the public on Monday, Duterte vetoed certain provisions that grant a general tax amnesty, including the entire Title III of the general tax amnesty of the enrolled bill before signing it into law on February 14.
"While I understand the legislature's objective in proposing an unconditional latitude in the grant of amnesty, I disagree as to the degree granted under the final version of the general amnesty under the enrolled bill," he said in the veto message.
Duterte expressed belief that the government's goal of collecting more revenue could not be met.
"I believe that, ultimately, the original objective will not be met under the proposed framework. Without the provisions breaking down the walls of bank secrecy, setting the legal framework for us to comply with international standards on exchange of information for tax purposes, and safeguarding against those who abuse the amnesty by declaring an untruthful asset or net worth, a general amnesty that is overgenerous and unregulated would create an environment ripe for future tax evasion, the very thing we wish to address," he explained.
Under the enrolled bill, any person, natural or juridical, who wishes to avail of the general tax amnesty, shall within one year from the effectivity of the implementing rules and regulations, file with the appropriate office of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which has jurisdiction over the taxpayer, a sworn general tax amnesty return accompanied by a notarized statement of total assets or notarized statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth, as the case may be, as of December 31, 2017. The payment of the amnesty tax shall be made at the time the return is filed.
He said there should be measures to be implemented in order not to incur long term substantial revenue losses.
He said the general amnesty program is meant to give taxpayers a fresh start as well as to signal the start of a fair tax enforcement campaign by the tax authorities.
"It is not meant to be abused for the gain of the few and the loss of the rest of the citizenry. These safeguards against tax evasion are estimated to contribute P76.6 billion to the public funds in the next five years which we hope to use to better our infrastructure and services," he said.
"Given these, I ask Congress to pass another general tax amnesty bill that included the lifting of bank secrecy for fraud cases, the inclusion of automatic exchange of information, and safeguards to ensure that asset or net worth declarations are truthful. With these provisions, the general tax amnesty will meet both its tax administration and revenue purposes," Duterte explained.
Duterte also vetoed Section 6 of the enrolled bill allowing a one-time declaration and settlement of estate taxes on properties that are in the name of prior decedents or donors whose estates remain unsettled.
"To implement one-time settlement across multiple estates would erode the expected revenue of the government from the estate tax amnesty," he said.
Duterte also removed the presumption of correctness of the estate tax amnesty returns under Section 7 of the enrolled bill.
"The grant of tax amnesty is a privilege that this administration supports without question. However, as with any other privilege, it is open to abuse. I am of the view that we must balance this privilege with accountability," he added. Celerina Monte/DMS