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Duterte to opponents of TRAIN Law: Don’t pay taxes but face consequence

President Rodrigo Duterte has dared opponents of the government’s tax reform program not to pay taxes only to warn them of the consequence.

“Kung ayaw mo ng TRAIN, eh ‘di huwag kang magbayad....Do not blame me if the BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue] also will go after you. As simple as that,” Duterte said during a private meeting at the Brigadier General Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu City on Tuesday, a transcript of which was provided by Malacañang late Wednesday night.

The government has repeatedly touted the benefits of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law (Republic Act 10963), which provides income tax cuts for the majority of Filipino taxpayers while raising excise taxes on petroleum products, cars, coal, sugary drinks, and tobacco to help support the government’s accelerated spending on its infrastructure and social services programs.

The Department of Finance has estimated that 99 percent of the country’s population will benefit from the TRAIN, with salaried employees and self-employed individuals earning a taxable income of P250,000 per year, or around P21,000 a month, exempted from paying the personal income tax.

Over 10 million Filipino households will also receive P200 a month this year to offset the slight increase in prices due to the higher excise taxes imposed by TRAIN.

The law’s constitutionality has since been challenged by two groups before the Supreme Court.

The petitions were separately filed by militant lawmakers and Laban Konsyumer Inc., through its president, former Trade Undersecretary Victor Dimagiba.

Both petitions argued that the law should be declared unconstitutional since the House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference committee report—the harmonized version of the TRAIN bill prepared by the House and the Senate—on Dec. 13, 2017 despite the lack of quorum needed to carry the vote and to pass the measure.

The petitions also disputed the government’s claim that the law, which took effect in January, would be beneficial to the public.

They cited the domino effect on the prices of goods brought about by the surge in the excise taxes on petroleum products, saying this would hit the poor and low-income families. —KG, GMA News