House eyes taxes on softdrinks, sweetened drinks

House eyes taxes on softdrinks, sweetened drinks
By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
Posted at 12/02/2014

MANILA – After enacting the higher tax exemption ceiling for the 13th month and other bonuses of salaried workers, the House ways and means committee is looking to offset any revenue loss with new tax measures, including a possible tax on softdrinks and other sweetened drinks.

“Ayaw natin tularan ang nakaraan na puro pataw ng buwis at tax exemption, di pinag-iisipan anuman tax exemption, ano revenue impact, kailangan hanapan ng kapalit para pagtakpan ano mawawala,” House ways and means committee chair Miro Quimbo said after a panel hearing on Tuesday.

Quimbo, however, couldn’t give a tax rate yet as it is still being studied by a technical working group that is consolidating all similar proposals.

“Babase din sa amount or laki ng bote or volume, kung di specific tax on sugar content. Ideally ang tao di lumalampas ng 10 teaspoons of sugar isang araw, isang inumin lang whether softdrinks or fruit juice, di niyo na naaubos ito based on sugar content,” he said.

Quimbo said proceeds from the softdrinks tax will fund access to free potable water.

He doubts that this will have an impact on local industries, pointing out that the sin tax on tobacco and alcohol did not affect that industry, aside from the health benefits of discouraging consumption of softdrinks. Thus, this is also a health measure.

Sugar has been blamed for obesity, type-2 diabetes and heart disease.

Aside from the tax on softdrinks and sweetened drinks, the committee is also looking at the rationalization of fiscal incentives.

Quimbo explained that some fiscal incentives need some “sunset provisions.”

“Ang gagawin dun sa rationalization of fiscal incentives is gagawin nang uniform. Tatlo ang pinanggagalingan ng incentives eh, iyong ibinibigay ng batas, iyong mga ipinasa ng Congress. Iyong pangalawa is iyong by location dahil nasa PEZA zone ka or nasa isang economic zone, at iyong pangatlo is iyong nabibigay na incentives because of the BOI because you fall under the Philippine Investment Strategy. So pagtinitignan mo minsan, nandun ka sa Cagayan export processing zone, pareho ang negosyo tapos nandito ka sa BOI parehong-pareho pero iba ang incentives. So kinakailangan gawin nating pare-pareho para level ang playing field,” he said.

Another bill expected to hit plenary within the first quarter of 2015 is the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

However, Quimbo said the bulk of their attention is on the lowering income tax bracket from 7 to 4 and adjusting the tax brackets to inflation.

Meanwhile, Quimbo reiterated that the law increasing tax exemptions for bonuses from P30,000 to P82,000 is immediately executory even without the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations.

He said the bill will be immediately effective by January 1, although bonuses usually begin midyear.

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