House bills set to tax cooperatives assailed

>> Monday, May 22, 2017

By Nelson Bolos

TARLAC CITY --  The government should not tax the poor said Tarlac Second District Rep. Victor Yap over House Bills 4664 and 4688 which, among others, intends to tax cooperatives like ordinary businesses.
This came after more than a thousand cooperative members recently held a rally at the Maria Cristina Park.
The rally was organized by the Tarlac Provincial Cooperative Council chaired by Gov. Susan Yap-Sulit.
“The point is government should not tax the poor, any removal of exemption that caters to the poor will certainly be passed back unto the poor,” Yap said.
House Bill 4688 was authored by Rep. Dakila Cua while HB 4774, was endorsed by Rep. Joey Salceda.
Both bills intend to generate more revenues by amending the National Income and Revenue Code (Republic Act 9337).
However, HB 4688 also repeals Article 61 (2)(B) of RA 9520 which specifically provides for tax exemption of cooperatives.
Cooperatives, under the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008 (RA 9520) and RA 9337, are exempted from many taxes.
During the “anti-HB 4688/4664 rally”, officials from the different cooperatives of the province took turns in lambasting the house bills which they say is anti-poor.
Bernie Fajardo, chairman of the TAMOGEPA Transport Service Cooperative, said at the rally: “Bakit ang iki-nabubuhay ng mga mahihirap ang papatawan ng tax, bakit hindi nila (government) singilin ng tama ang mga malalaking negosyo at mga bigtime tax evaders? ‘Di ba na pabalita noon na nabigyan ng mahigit P200 Billion tax discount ang isang oil company? Bakit ang mahihirap ang lalong pinapahirapan”
“Sa amin, wala na ngang suporta ang gobyerno, hindi pa nila hinuhuli ang mga colorum na nagnanakaw sa aming lehitimong hanapbuhay, at ita-tax pa kami?”, added Fajardo whose group have been complaining the more than 200 colorumuv vans plying their franchise route since 2010.
Sol Gonzales, chairman of the Abagon Compact Farm and Seeds Growers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Gerona, Tarlac) said, “Once coops are imposed with taxes, they will lose their competitiveness and this will eventually lead to the closing down of cooperatives”.
“The bills will make the Cooperative Code of the Philippines senseless. The tax-free privilege of coops is the core of the Republic Act 9520 (Cooperative Code)”, also said Gonzales whose group produces hybreedpalay seed which are sold to framers and local government units (LDUs) at prices much below the commercial varieties.
“Electricity and water are basic needs. The best and most equitable way we can give the poor advantage (is not to tax them). Those consuming higher could be taxed”, also said Yap who is a former 3-term governor of Tarlac.
Nap Ferrer, one among the local critics of the 2 bills lamented the effect on taxing electric cooperatives.
Ferrer said, “Once electric coops are levied with regular taxes, the cost of power will increase and this will be charged to the poor consumers”, Yap noted.
Around ¾ of the households in the province are powered by Tarlac Electric Cooperative (TARELCO) I and II. The TARELCOs power rate is around P10 per Kilo-watt-hour while the privately-owned Tarlac Electric Incorporated (TEI), which powers Tarlac City, charges more than P12/kwh.


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