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Hontiveros: Maternity leave benefits now tax-free

Senator Risa Hontiveros said Wednesday that maternity leave benefits of working mothers are now tax-free.

She made the comment as she welcomed the Bureau of Internal Revenue's announcement that the salary differential provision in the Expanded Maternity Leave (EML) Law is not subject to tax.

"Ito ay isang maagang pamasko sa lahat ng mga working nanay at kanilang mga babies. Sa isang panahon na kaliwa't kanan ang ating mga binabayarang buwis, tax-free na ang expanded maternity leave benefits ng mga kababaihan!" Hontiveros, principal author and sponsor of the law, said.

The Expanded Maternity Leave law increases the number of paid maternity leaves from the current 60 to 105 days. Under the law, solo parents receive an additional 15 days, for a total of 120. It also has a "daddy quota" provision that allows the allocation of seven maternity leave days to fathers.

Hontiveros said the BIR, in a memorandum posted last October 9, said that based on the new provisions of the EML law and its implementing rules and regulations, as well as the respective issuances of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the maternity benefit of the female worker has been expanded from the previous 100% of the average daily salary credit to a full pay or salary which includes now the salary differential as its component, aside from the added duration of the maternity leave.

Hence, the salary differential is considered as a benefit and exempted from income and withholding taxes.

Those who are covered by the tax exemption are working women who have a salary above the SSS benefit and whose employers are required to pay the difference between the SSS benefit and the actual salary.

“This is welcome news indeed. Now mothers and their families will not only be able to enjoy the biological benefits of the EML law, but their financial welfare is also looked after, particularly those who earn just enough to meet basic needs and still feel the pinch in times of economic strain,” said Hontiveros. —KG, GMA News