Philippines: “Ordinary working people’s burden increased” by Duterte’s tax reform




In the Philippines, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) is currently being rolled out under the Rodrigo Duterte presidency. This comprehensive tax reform program, signed into law in January 2018, claims bringing relief to burdensome taxes by cutting personal income tax rates.

Mae Buenaventura, co-coordinator of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice’s working group on Tax & Gender, based in Manila with the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) who also hosts the Tax and Fiscal Justice Alliance Asia (TAFJA), gave her analysis of TRAIN to Filipino info canal

“In truth the greater majority of ordinary working people will not benefit as they are already outside the tax net to begin with. Their burdens will actually increase because the cuts in income taxes are to be recovered from new excise taxes on all petroleum products and the expansion of the VAT, among others. The cascading effect on prices of goods and services is already being felt today. Meanwhile, there is little forthcoming by way of plugging the loopholes through which huge amounts of revenue are being lost; these include preferential treatment for foreign investors, unabated fraudulence in trade transactions, and disadvantageous bilateral tax treaties with developed countries”.

” Save perhaps for carbon tax, we really oppose TRAIN because even now that TRAIN hasn’t been fully implemented yet, Buenaventura adds, we already see prices going up. So whatever has been gained — if there is any — from the P200 additional [cash grants] that will supposedly be a safety net, is practically worthless because prices have been going up.”

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