Manila plans to tax starving fishermen

Manila plans to tax starving fishermen

Manila : Philippines | Feb 14, 2014 at 9:31 PM PST
Kim Henares estimates just five million of the 38 million working-age Filipinos pay taxes
Kim Henares estimates just five million of the 38 million working-age Filipinos pay taxes

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Gloria Madonna Velarde

MANILA, Philippines— The Philippine government is set to impose more taxes on marginalized sectors, including but not limited to subsistence fishermen who could hardly feed their families three times a day due to small income.

A national federation of small fishermen in the country had assailed the plan of Bureau of Internal Revenue to tax small fishermen other marginal income earners.

Dismissing the plan as “heartless, bizarre, brutal and extremely cruel, the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said that despite the poorest sector in the country is found along the country’s coastal areas, the tax agency still wants subsistence fishermen to pay taxes more than the 12-percent Expanded Value Added Tax (E-VAT) they pay for every liter of gasoline or diesel for their motorized boats .

A fisherman also shoulders the 12- percent EVAT they pay for every kilo of rice they buy to feed their family.

“Every fisherman in this country can no longer feed his family three times a day due to rising cost of production coupled with 12 percent EVAT and high prices of basic commodities due to the same regressive tax scheme levied on necessities. And here is the Aquino administration courtesy of the ever cruel BIR Commissioner Kim Henares working on to tax our poor fisherfolk’s P 50 daily income. If that is not Satanic, then what is it? An act sent from heaven above?” said Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya official said a small fisherman used to pay daily taxes in the form of expanded value added tax. He said for an average of 5 liters of gasoline or diesel they used for fishing, they pay the national government some P 60 pesos in taxes.

France said aside from EVAT on petroleum products, a fisherman consumes three kilos of rice for his family and that constitutes P 12 per day in total taxes paid to the government in the form of the controversial EVAT.

“Everyday a small fisherman pays the government a total of P 72 in EVAT, and now the government wants to tax the remaining P 50 for state income. This is horrible, terrifying and revolting to the highest order,” added France.

Pamalakaya said the government is inviting a major political upheaval from the affected sectors if President Benigno Simeon Aquino will still insist in taxing the poor. ”

The proposed BIR measure to tax the starving public is an open invitation to war. If Mr. Aquino and the tax dictator Henares want war, we will give them war,” said Pamalakaya.

The group meanwhile, urged the Senate and the House of Representatives to legislate a law that would stop Malacanang from pursuing this Hitler like move to burdened the poor public with more regressive tax measures.

“The lawmakers are legally and morally obliged to stop this tax madness from the tax madmen of the Aquino syndicate in Malacanang,” the group added.

The BIR said aside from small fishermen and farmers, owners of small “sari-sari” (variety) stores, single-unit tricycle operators and other marginal income earners (MIEs) will be required to pay taxes.

Under Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 7-2014, the BIR argues that MIEs are liable to pay the income tax, but are exempted from the value-added tax and from the business tax.

The MIEs are defined in the circular as individuals who are self-employed and earning not more than P100,000 in any given 12-month period. Their incomes are considered mainly for subsistence.

The tax authority said the MIEs may also include owners of small carinderia or turo-turo and other micro-entrepreneurs. They exclude licensed professionals, sales agents, brokers, artists and other professionals whose incomes are subject to withholding tax.

The issuance of the circular was part of the BIR’s tax campaign, under which it aims to plug leakages from tax evasion and to boost state coffers. In a complementary circular, No. 8-2014, the tax authority said individuals who have claimed to have exemptions from certain taxes should secure certification from the BIR for such exemptions.

The BIR, which accounts for at least 60 percent of the national government’s revenues, is tasked to collect P1.46 trillion in taxes this year. In 2013, it was expected to have posted at least a 10-percent year-on-year growth in collection although it was seen to have fallen short of its target of P1.253 trillion.

According to rough estimates, the government loses about P450 billion a year due to tax evasion.

GerryAlbert is based in Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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