The tax amnesty bill sponsored by Senator Sonny Angara is now only a step away from becoming a law after Senate ratified the bicameral report on the measure generally viewed as a “win-win” for both taxpayers and government.

The tax amnesty bill grants those who have failed to pay for taxable year 2017 and prior years a one-time opportunity to settle tax obligations, including estate taxes, general taxes and delinquent accounts.

Through the measure, the government is expected to raise up to P41 billion which will be used to finance crucial infrastructure projects and augment appropriations needed for the social mitigating measures under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN law. P500 million will be used exclusively for establishing a tax database.

“This is but another step in the long quest toward an efficient and equitable tax system,” said Angara, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee.

As the Lower House ratified the measure, it is now ready for the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte to become a law.

The seasoned legislator said the bicam panel has agreed to make the tax amnesty bill “pro-taxpayer” that would attract “ordinary citizens who have long wanted to come clean but feared prosecution to finally settle their arrears.”

For general tax amnesty, the bicam panel agreed that taxpayers would be given the option to choose the rate between 2 percent of total assets or 5 percent of the net worth or a minimum tax.

“This will give taxpayers more flexibility, which would encourage them more to avail of the amnesty,” the veteran lawmaker said.

“This will give taxpayers more flexibility, which would encourage them more to avail of the amnesty.”

Moreover, taxpayers can avail of a reprieve from all estate taxes, and instead pay 6 percent based on the decedent’s total net estate.

“Malaking tulong ito sa mga pamilya na may ari-arian na ilang taon o dekada nang nakatengga dahil hindi pa bayad ang estate tax-resulting in huge penalties and surcharges while use of assets are not maximized. With the amnesty, heirs can now enjoy the assets that will be freed for development,” the senator said.

“With the amnesty, heirs can now enjoy the assets that will be freed for development.”

The bill also covers an amnesty on delinquencies. Taxpayers can avail of 40 percent of the basic tax for delinquencies and assessments which have become final and executory, 50 percent for cases subject of final and executory judgment by the courts, and 60 percent or those subject of pending criminal cases.

Taxpayers will be given a year from the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations to avail of the amnesty, except for estate tax amnesty where taxpayers will be given two years to avail. Discounts will be granted for early availers.

Those who avail of the amnesty program will be immune from payment of all taxes and the filing of civil, criminal, and administrative cases and penalties.

Any information and data provided shall be confidential and shall not be admissible as evidence in any proceeding. Also, the books of accounts and other records of the taxpayer for the years covered by the tax amnesty availed of shall not be examined by the BIR.

With tax evasion cases taking decades to be decided in clogged courts, with the expenses to investigate, prosecute and hear greater than the taxes sought to be paid, Angara said “an amnesty, in many instances, could yield bigger amounts than the prosecution route.”

He added that unlawful divulgence of tax amnesty return and supporting documents has corresponding penalties under the bill.

A fine of P150,000 and a maximum jail term of 10 years await violators from the private sector.

If the violation is committed by a government official or employee, the penalties are fine of up to P1 million, maximum jail term of 5 years, and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.



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