Message delivered by HON. ALFREDO “ALBEE” B. BENITEZ on the occasion of the TAX CAMPAIGN of the BIR Regional Office SMX Convention Center, Bacolod City

March 25, 2015

A pleasant afternoon to all of you.

Allow me to first express my gratitude to the Bureau of Internal Revenue Regional Office for giving me an opportunity to become a part of the launch of your tax campaign this year. I am indeed much honored to be with the hard-working officials and employees of this agency.

I recognize the crucial role of BIR in the sustained development of our nation. With this, I congratulate the agency for a job well done in the previous years and look forward to how you, together with the national and local governments, continue to pursue your goals in the your tax campaign this year.

Much more relevant to your role here in the region is the work that we do in Congress. Our so-called power of the purse makes us partners in ensuring that sustained funding are existing in order to achieve significant development work in the country. Your humble representation is also a member of the Committee of Ways and Means, which is tasked to deliberate on proposed measures that impact on your work.

For this Congress, the direction of the Committee is towards the rationalization of fiscal incentives paralleled also with the effort to unburden the overtaxed working and middle class in our society. Firstly, the Committee on Ways and Means has successfully enacted into law the measure increasing the 13th Month Pay Exemption. The law grants tax relief to the working Filipinos by mandating that the 13th month pay and other benefits, including productivity incentives and Christmas bonuses, not exceeding P82,000 given to both government and private sector employees will be exempted from tax. AS reported by the Committee, “the newly enacted law has provided for the automatic adjustment of the ceiling every three years, taking into account inflation, to ensure that the tax ceiling won’t be left unchanged again for more than two decades.”

Secondly, another initiative of the Committee on Ways and Means is to pass the Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives Bill. The Committee, led by our Chair, Congressman Miro Quimbo, is working closely with the Department of Finance and the BIR on this measure. This proposed law seeks to rationalize the grant and administration of fiscal incentives for the promotion and growth of investments. As the bill deals with sensitive matters to local industries, especially the ailing ones, this is still under careful deliberations by the Committee. After all, I know we are all in agreement that if we are aiming for inclusive growth, we should lean towards tax equity instead of repressive taxes.

Much of the effort to improve the national policy environment on taxation will be negated without the determination and perseverance of all of you – the implementors of the law. I enjoin all of you to continue your good work here and rest assured that we in Congress shall also fulfill our part in ensuring substantial resources in the country’s coffers without sacrificing the respective needs and welfare of the local industries and ordinary citizens.

Salamat guid.