By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Members of the Senate and House of Representatives are expected to convene into bicameral conference committee Friday, December 1, to tackle disagreeing provisions on the proposed tax reform package.
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said the bicameral committee is scheduled to meet in the Senate at 2 p.m.
After months of debates over the proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law in the two chambers of Congress, lawmakers would now have to reconcile their respective versions of the measure.
But, despite being certified as an urgent measure, senators admitted that ratifying TRAIN before submitting it to the President would not be a walk in the park. Minority Leader Sen. Franklin Drilon said that TRAIN awaits “real battle” in the bicameral level.
Angara, on Thursday, however said there will be “give-and-take” in the bicameral committee in order to come to an agreement.
Asked about a possible deadlock, Angara told reporters, “We will try to set aside momentarily any contentious issues and try to move forward to the non-contentious (provisions).”
One of the disputable points in the two versions of the TRAIN was the proposed taxes on petroleum products.
The Senate, in its version, approved a staggered P6 excise tax per liter on petroleum products, except kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
The Upper Chamber, contrary to its counterpart, exempted kerosene from excise tax while reduced to P3 per kilogram the tax on LPG.
The two Chambers would also have to reconcile the value-added tax (VAT) exemption for leases of residential units. The Senate retained the VAT exemption of leases below P15,000; while the House lifted the exemption on monthly rentals below P10,000.
Lawmakers are also expected to debate on the excise tax to be imposed on sweetened beverages.
While both chambers agreed to exclude milk beverages and natural fruit and vegetable drinks from tax, the Senate, in its approved version, imposed a P4.50 per liter excise tax on beverages using caloric and non-caloric sweeteners, and P9 per liter for beverages using high-fructose corn syrup.
The House, on the other hand, imposed a P10 per liter tax on local sugar, while P20 per liter for others, said Angara.
On Wednesday, Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III likewise said he wants to push for the Senate’s two-tiered scheme in imposing excise tax on automobiles.
He said the Senate’s imposing of only 10 percent to 20 percent tax on cars worth at least P1 million “will generate more revenues and prevent smuggling”, rather than imposing an “almost 100 percent” tax on cars exceeding P1 million.
Tedious discussions are also expected over the proposed additional excise taxes on minerals, coal, and cosmetic procedures.
Tags: Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), Manila Bulletin, Senate House to convene to tackle provisions of TRAIN, Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), value-added tax
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