By Neil Arwin Mercado | Inquirer.net
House bill to make poll workers' pay, allowances tax-free okayed on 2nd reading
FILE PHOTO: Plenary Hall of the House of the Representatives in Quezon City. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives approved on second reading a measure that would make honoraria, allowances, and other benefits received by those rendering service during the election period free from tax.
Via voice voting, the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 9652, amending the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.
Under the bill, honoraria, travel allowance, and other benefits granted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to persons rendering election service – such as public school teachers – shall be excluded from the computation of gross income of persons rendering election service, and thus shall not be covered by income tax.
In sponsoring the measure, ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro said poll workers should be able to enjoy their compensation “in full with no additional burdens.”
“It must be noted that the volunteer poll workers exhaust their honoraria and allowances for travel, food, and other expenses before, during, and after the election to perform election-related tasks and are even forced to spend their personal funds to effectively and efficiently carry out their functions,” Castro said.
“Considering both the risks election workers take, the relatively small size of their compensation for such an important function, and the reasonableness of the tax foregone, this proposal will not result in serious erosion of government revenues,” she added.
House committee on ways and means chairperson Joey Salceda, who is also an author of the measure, said the proposed law should be fast-tracked in time for the 2022 elections.