2nd tax reform package seeks to curb gov’t losses due to fiscal incentives
Philippine Daily Inquirer
05:12 AM January 12, 2018
The government is losing more than P300 billion in revenue yearly from the wide array of tax and other perks being enjoyed by big corporations, highlighting the need for the rationalization of incentives for investors under the second tax reform package, the Department of Finance yesterday said.
“These incentives totaling P301.22 billion do not yet include exemptions from the payment of local business taxes and the estimates on tax leakages,” Chua added.
“So on the average, we gave away up to 1.5 percent of our GDP (gross domestic product) in income tax and custom duties exemptions,” Chua said.
Citing data from the implementation of the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act (Timta), Chua said foregone revenues from income tax holidays reached P53.77 billion in 2015; P32.48 billion from special rates, and P18.14 billion from import duty incentives.
The tax incentives covered by the Timta law totaled P104.39 billion, equivalent to nearly 5 percent of national government revenue and 0.78 percent of GDP, according to Chua.
“So in general, we are giving almost 0.8 percent of GDP so far on tax incentives from these income tax holidays and custom duty exemptions. Together with the VAT, it is P301 billion, or 2 percent of GDP. These are only the investment incentives,” he added.
As the government could only collect from large companies taxes equivalent to a mere 3.7 percent of the economy due to wide array of exemptions despite high rates, the DOF is pushing for reforms in corporate income taxation.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III earlier said the DOF was planning to submit the second package of the comprehensive tax reform program to the Lower House when Congress resumes session on Jan. 15.
“Compared to other economies in the Asean, the Philippines imposes the highest corporate income tax (CIT) rate but is among those at the bottom in terms of collection efficiency. The Philippines currently imposes a CIT rate of 30 percent but tax collection efficiency is only 12.3 percent. Thailand’s CIT rate is only 20 percent but it collects almost triple–a 30.5 percent efficiency rate—that represents 6.1 percent of its GDP,” Chua said in a statement.
Efficiency rate is the ratio of the actual take against potential collections.
“Vietnam’s CIT rate is 25 percent but it collects even more with a 29.2-percent tax efficiency rate representing 7.3 percent of GDP. Malaysia’s 24 percent CIT generates a 27.1-percent efficiency rate in terms of collecting taxes, which is 6.5 percent of GDP,” Chua added.
“Clearly, we have the classic problem of a high rate but narrow base. That is why the efficiency is problematic,” according to Chua.
In particular, Chua blamed the country’s “flawed and outdated” fiscal incentives regime, which has a total of 360 investment and noninvestment laws giving away tax and other perks to investors.
The second tax reform package would be based mainly on the results of the cost-benefit analysis of investors’ tax perks under the Timta.
A comprehensive review of the country’s tax incentives regime had been mandated under the Timta Law.
The second tax reform package would bring down the corporate income tax rate from 30 percent at present to 28 percent in 2019 and 25 percent in 2021, similar to the rates in neighboring countries.
Fiscal incentives would be rationalized under the second package such that only those that were performance-based, targeted, time-bound and transparent would be given incentives.
As for existing tax incentives, a sunset provision of a maximum of five years would be put in place.
Also, the government would replace the 5-percent gross income earned tax to a reduced corporate income tax rate of 15 percent under the second tax package.