Senator Win Gatchalian hailed the Senate’s third reading approval of a measure that seeks to exempt poll workers’ honoraria and other benefits from income tax.
Senate Bill No. 2520, which Gatchalian co-authored, excludes from gross income the honoraria, travel allowance, and other benefits granted by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to persons rendering election service. The proposed measure will apply to the May 9, 2022 local and national elections and thereafter.
Gatchalian has pushed to exempt from taxation the honoraria, allowances, and benefits of poll workers, including public school teachers. According to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, giving poll workers the full amount of their honoraria and other benefits shows appreciation for their hard work and sacrifices to ensure peaceful and orderly elections.
Around 647,812 personnel from the Department of Education (DepEd) rendered service for this year’s national and local polls, 319,317 of whom served as members of Electoral Boards (EB).
“Kung hindi na natin papatawan ng buwis ang sahod at benepisyo ng mga guro, maipapadama natin ang ating pasasalamat at pagkilala sa kanilang mga sakripisyo upang matiyak na malinis at maayos ang ating halalan,” said Gatchalian.
The election honoraria and allowances were never subjected to tax until the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections and the 2019 midterm elections when the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) imposed a 5 percent withholding tax on their honoraria. This year, election honoraria and allowances were subjected to 20% withholding tax.
The Department of Finance (DOF) earlier maintained that the proposed tax exemption could be difficult to implement and runs counter to the principles of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law to make the tax system more efficient and equitable.
Gatchalian, however, noted that the tax code already provides for tax exemptions. He earlier urged the DOF and the BIR to submit their proposals on how to give poll workers the full amount of their honoraria and other benefits since elections are only held every three years.