The government should consider removing the dozens of value-added tax (VAT) exemptions that corporations enjoy under the law to compensate for the losses under the proposed VAT reduction to 10 percent, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Sunday.
Lacson, who proposed to return the VAT from 12 to 10 percent, said the Philippines has a total of 143 VAT exemptions, the highest among its neighbors in Southeast Asia.
“Pero teka muna bawasan natin ang 143 exemptions. Kaya nga tayo di maka-takeoff parang ang balloon, ang daming butas. Ang daming holes kaya di maka-take off ang economy, ito nagpo-propel ng economy, ‘di ba revenue, umaasa tayo ng revenue. So ganoon ang background,” Lacson said in an interview with DZBB radio.
(Wait, let us reduce the 143 exemptions. That’s why we cannot takeoff, just like a balloon, there are lots of holes. We rely on revenues, which propel the economy, but there are lots of holes. That is the background in the proposal.)
Lacson said neighboring countries have a minimal number of VAT exemptions: Indonesia has 37, Thailand has 35, Vietnam has 25 and Malaysia has 14.
He said many enterprises and businesses have enjoyed VAT exemptions for a very long time — others as far as year 2000. These are on top of other perks they enjoy, such as income tax and other tax holidays.
He estimated that if the VAT is at 10 percent and there are no exemptions, the government could easily collect P1.7 trillion based on the 2018 projected gross domestic product (GDP) nominal value at P17.7 trillion. This would be on top of other revenues collected by the government, including income tax, excise tax, and customs duties.
“Idagdag mo pa income tax, excise tax, kung anu-ano, siguro surplus tayo. ‘Di na tayo mangungutang,” he said.
(Add the income tax, excise tax, whatever, maybe we will have a surplus (in funds). We will no longer need to borrow.)
But because it is impossible not to have exemptions, Lacson said he seeks to remove 78 lines of exemptions under the current tax scheme.
“So baka naman pwede bigyan ng kaunting breather ang ating pangkaraniwang mamamayan. Tayo ‘yan, 107 million Filipinos, walang ligtas sa VAT. Kaunting kibot may VAT, mag-rent ka ng apartment babayad ka ng VAT. Bibili ng damit, babayad ka ng VAT. Sasakyan ng kung saan babayad ka ng VAT. Lahat may VAT, hagip talaga ng VAT,” he said.