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Higher Take-Home Pay a Step Away from Becoming Law- Angara

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The Senate on Wednesday has ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill that would raise the take-home pay of more than 7 million workers in the country.

Senate Bill 1592, sponsored by Senator Sonny Angara, was ratified with 16 affirmative votes, 4 negative votes, and zero abstention.

While both versions exempt P250,000 annual taxable income, members of the bicameral committee have agreed to adopt the provision of the Lower House that provides for a second tranche of the personal income tax reform that would further reduce income tax rates starting 2023.

“Ibinaba na po natin ang kaltas sa buwis simula next year, may mas malaking ginhawa pang naghihintay pagdating ng 2023. Ito ay para hindi na mapagiwanan ulit ng panahon ang tax rates na nagresulta sa napakataas na buwis na hindi na patas para sa mga ordinaryong manggagawa. Alinsunod din ito sa pangako ng administrasyong Duterte na hindi buwisan pa ang kumikita ng P20,000 pababa,” said Angara, chairman of the ways and means committee.

Bicam conferees have also agreed to raise the tax exemption cap of 13th month pay and other bonuses to P90,000.

For example, a call center representative earning about P30,168 a month is currently taxed at 30% or P55,490 annually. With such decrease in tax rates, his or her annual tax due will be reduced to P18,660 at 20%, resulting to approximately P36,830 annual savings.

In 2023, his or her annual taxes will be further slashed to P13,995 at 15% income tax rate.

Moreover, the TRAIN bill provided for a simpler and easier tax filing and payment for self-employed individuals and professionals (SEPs) to encourage them to pay correct taxes.

Members of the bicam have agreed to make the 8% flat tax optional for those earning below P3 million so they can choose whether to opt for the 8% flat tax or the schedular personal income tax.

Self-employed and professionals earning below P250,000 will likewise be exempt from income tax, while those with gross sales or receipts of P500,000 and below will be exempt from 3% percentage tax.

The 8% flat tax will only be filed once a year, while VAT and percentage tax shall be filed quarterly. Currently, SEPs should file VAT and percentage tax returns every month.

Income tax returns will also be shortened and simplified to four pages from the current 12 pages.

“Bukod sa pagpapababa ng buwis, mas pinasimple din natin ang proseso ng pag-file ng tax returns para mas madali na ang pagbabayad ng tamang buwis,” Angara said.

After the ratification of both houses of Congress, the consolidated bill will be transmitted to the Office of the President for his signature.

senate.gov.ph

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Duterte Opens Bank Dedicated to the Needs of Overseas Filipinos

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Image Source: from pia.gov.ph by Presidential Photos

President Rodrigo Duterte launched on Thursday the Overseas Filipino Bank, a fruition of his campaign promise to establish the first-ever bank dedicated to the needs of overseas-based Filipinos.

In his speech during the launching of the Overseas Filipino Bank at the former Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PostBank) head office in Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila, the President said he was happy that he was able to fulfill one of his campaign promises.

In September last year, the President issued Executive Order No. 44 ordering the Philippine Postal Corporation and the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) to transfer their PostBank shares to LandBank at zero value.

The EO further stated that the former Postal Bank will be converted into the “Overseas Filipino Bank,” which will be a “policy bank dedicated to provide financial products and services tailored to the requirement of overseas Filipinos” and will focus on delivering “quality and efficient foreign remittance services.

“The Overseas Filipino Bank (OFB) is envisioned to provide a wide array of financial services to overseas Filipinos, especially the country’s migrant workers, so that they would no longer be vulnerable to expensive remittance services and investment scams,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said.

“The OFB is another step towards reshaping our economic progress to make it more inclusive. It will help fulfill our goal of shifting to an investment-driven economy. More important, our overseas workers would be able to invest in their country which they have helped transform into one of the fastest-growing economies in the region,” Dominguez said.

He clarified that the Bank was initially conceptualized as a financial institution for OFWs, but its coverage was expanded to include all Filipinos based overseas to make it more inclusive.

“There is no other institution like this one,” said Dominguez.

As a subsidiary of the Land Bank of the Philippines, Dominguez said the OFB can be assured of “exemplary financial expertise and sufficient capital to ensure its success.

He said the DOF and LandBank are also planning to secure licenses in other countries with large concentrations of overseas Filipinos so the LandBank can provide financial advisory services to the Filipino communities in these areas. (PIA-NCR/EPC/SDL)

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Be Wary of Phishing, Spoofing – BSP

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The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reminded the public anew to be cautious of phishing and spoofing scams.

BSP advises the public to watch out for these scams and be cautious of emails that ask for details like personal information such as username, password, account number, card number, CVV code, PIN, birthday. According to BSP, banks would not request these details thru email.

The public is also advised to watch for emails with generic greeting, misspelling or bad grammar, unexpected or not typically received. Also, a link to another website which is possibly a fake website, and emails that does not give you full contact details of the sender.

Phishing is an act wherein fraudsters get your personal information thru legitimate-looking email and use it to illegally access your account. Meanwhile, spoofing is an act wherein fraudsters fool you to click a link to a website that looks legitimate to get your account details.

BSP reminded the public to immediately verify or report to your bank if you receive this kind of email and to copy furnish and / or report to BSP or call at (02) 708-7087. (bsp/epc/jeg/pia-ncr)

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Globe Telecom Looks at Global Best Practices in Fight vs. Illegal Sites, Child Pornography

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Globe Telecom looks at global best practices in Singapore and other countries in its fight against illegal sites and child pornography in order to protect the rights of young Filipino boys and girls who are most susceptible to exploitation and abuse.

The island-state currently regulates the presence of objectionable content and conduct online through its Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as enabled by the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act and carried out by Singapore’s Media Development Authority. A list of 100 websites are banned including a site that allegedly recruited underage boys for sex and nude photography.

In the Philippines, the Anti-child Pornography Act of 2009, Intellectual Property Code, and the Anti-Camcording Law were previously placed to combat child pornography and other illegal sites. In 2014, the Cyber Crime Law took effect that made any crime under the Revised Penal Code, which is a list of general punishable acts, be considered a cybercrime if done using a computer or the internet. Thus, prior laws pertaining to intellectual rights and piracy are given more support for enforcement.

With enabling laws, regulatory agencies such as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Intellectual Property Office (IPO), and the Optical Media Board (OMB) among others can learn from the practice of other countries if the Philippines is really serious at combating piracy and child pornography.

Yoly Crisanto, Globe SVP for Corporate Communications, said: “This advocacy is important especially as we contribute greatly to the development of a digital nation. We want to provide our customers with safe and quality content and ensure that our products and services are not used for illegal activities. At the same time, we want to protect intellectual property rights including our own original content and the licensed content of our global and local partners so that we can give the people who create content what’s rightfully due them.”

In 2017, Globe invested 2.7 million dollars to improve its Domain Name System (DNS) with several blocking capabilities that enabled the company to block close to 2,500 domains or sites found to have lewd and child pornography-related content and will continue to actively look out for such illegal sites.

Although the Philippines has Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 to protect every child from all forms of exploitation and abuse, sadly the country continue to top the list of global sources of child pornography based on the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) The State of The World’s Children 2017 report entitled “Children in a Digital World. The situation, however, is expected to improve with the signing into law of the child online protection provision in RA 10929 or the Free Internet in Public Places Act.

The Unicef report noted that the pervasiveness of the Internet, mobile apps and online payment methods further aided in the proliferation of child pornography and sex trafficking.

It was collaborated by another report from the International Justice Mission, a human rights group handling cases of online exploitation of children in the Philippines which noted that 8 out of 10 victims that they have rescued are 12 years old and below, some even as young babies.

Under Philippine law, “child pornography” refers to ”any representation, whether visual, audio, or written combination thereof, by electronic, mechanical, digital, optical, magnetic or any other means, of child engaged or involved in real or simulated explicit sexual activities”.

The fight against child pornography and illegal sites is part of Globe Telecom’s #PlayItRight advocacy campaign to ensure that its products and services are not used in illegal activities and to protect the copyrighted content of its global partners.

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Duterte Wants Gov’t Workers Strictly Banned from Entering Casinos

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In line with his call to all government workers to avoid lavish lifestyles, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the strict implementation of a law prohibiting public servants from entering gambling casinos.

During the launch of the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank) last Thursday, President Duterte said he made his directive to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa.

“I just issued an order to Bato last night. Sabi ko, Bato, halika, maglagay ka sa casino prohibiting all workers of government from entering,” Duterte said.

“May PD niyan eh. There’s a law. At that time, it was a law. It’s still the law. It was never modified or repealed. Sabi pa ni Bato, ‘Lagay mo diyan ‘all government employees’,” he added.

When asked by Dela Rosa if he would include government officials, President Duterte said: “Lahat kami workers.”

“That’s why I’d like to remind everybody: We are all workers of government and we serve the people,” the President said.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos had issued Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1067-B granting the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation a franchise to establish, operate, and maintain gambling casinos.

Both PD 1067-B and its amended version PD 1869 prohibit government officials, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and persons under 21 years of age or students from entering and playing in casinos.

In September 2016, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued Memorandum Circular No. 6 ordering all public officials and employees, including military and police, to strictly observe all laws banning them from entering, staying, or playing in the casinos.

Recently, Medialdea issued a separate memorandum providing guidelines to all government officials and personnel in the executive department applying for foreign travels.

The memorandum was made in line with Pres. Duterte’s campaign to cut down extravagant and lavish foreign trips.

Duterte, a popular graft buster during his 23 years of service as mayor of Davao City, is also known for his very simple and frugal lifestyle.

“That’s all my message. Very simple. Not so good to hear but at least, at least, at the very least, it comes from the heart,” the President said in closing his OFBank launching speech.

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