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General tax amnesty eyed in April 2019

The government is planning to implement the much-awaited tax amnesty in April next year to coincide with the deadline of filing of income tax returns, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said.

“Most likely, the amnesty will come in April also because we don’t want the taxpayer to be filing many things—just one filing of amnesty and income tax at the same time. I think that’s most reasonable,” Dominguez told reporters late Wednesday.

Dominguez said that the Lower House was “moving quickly” on pending legislation for the tax amnesty, which forms part of tax reform package “1B,” an offshoot of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act under Republic Act No. 10963 signed by President Duterte last December.

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Besides a general tax amnesty, package 1B also includes an estate tax amnesty, higher motor vehicle user’s charge, bank secrecy relaxation and automatic exchange of information.

Tax package 1B was a result of the Senate’s removal of the tax administration measures from the original first tax reform package passed by the Lower House last year under House Bill No. 5636.

Once package 1B is passed, it will add about P40 billion in revenues this year.

“I’d like to have it [tax package 1B] passed in the third quarter by the latest. By that time, it’s good because it will increase our revenues and basically help us in our tax administration. The sooner we get it, the better,” Dominguez said.

The finance chief nonetheless noted that even if the tax package would be passed in the third quarter of this year, the revenues would come in 2018.

In January, Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said that the general tax amnesty program alone could generate P26 billion in revenues for the government.

Dominguez earlier said that under its comprehensive tax reform program, the government was considering amnesty for taxpayers with deficiencies in payments of property taxes, estate taxes, regular taxes such as income taxes and value-added tax as well as amnesty on pending cases in courts.

Dominguez had also said that the Department of Finance (DOF) was looking at a settlement through the payment of a minimum of 40-percent basic tax as amnesty tax.

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According to Dominguez, the amnesty program would be legislated “to clear up all tax cases.”

Chua had said the plan to legislate a final amnesty would be “absolute” in the sense that availment would clear all tax dockets in the Bureaus of Internal Revenue and of Customs as well as in the courts.

However, it would exclude criminal cases, Chua had said.

Once legislated, there would no longer be further tax amnesty for the next 25 years, according to Chua.

The DOF had plans to impose a higher amount for delayed amnesty payments, while also planning to allow compromise for cases pending before the Court of Tax Appeals that have assessments, while those without assessments would have to pay a 5-percent tax on net worth.

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