How Would You Benefit from the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act in the Philippines?

When entering a job, you should know that the salary you will get will not be of full amount, unless it’s the minimum wage. But whatever the case you are in, you should start learning the basics of the tax system.

First, let’s try to understand what taxes are. Those are mandatory contributions of everyone to raise profits for what the government calls it, nation-building. The revenue is used to pay for our doctors, teachers, soldiers, and other government employees and officials, as well as for building schools, hospitals, roads, and other infrastructure. Paying taxes is part of every employee’s duties.

Why are taxes collected?

The government collects taxes to provide basic services such as education, health, infrastructure, and other social services for its citizens.

Although the taxes’ purpose sounds promising, employees always cringe whenever they see it on their monthly pay slips. It sores not just their eyes but also their pockets. So, the current administration proposes the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill or Republic Act No. 10963.

And on December 19, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law the new tax reform package or commonly known as the TRAIN bill which is effective starting January 1, 2018.

It sets a new tax system that benefits almost all 7.5 million individual income tax payers in the country and you could be one of them. But the question still lies whether the Filipinos will benefit from it. So to better understand what the TRAIN bill is all about, we’ve listed few things below.

What TRAIN wants to achieve?

  1. More take-home pay or money in almost everyone’s pockets. The proposed tax reform program looks to put more money into people’s pockets by revamping the tax table to keep up with the times.
  2. Simplify the Value Added Tax (VAT). In the Philippines, we are being charged 12% which is actually quite higher than our neighboring countries. Indonesia and Vietnam are taxed at 10% while Singapore is at 7%.

Under the TRAIN bill, those earning not more than P250,000 annually will not be taxed. And those who are earning more than P250,000 a year will have a reduced tax.

For example, if you have a monthly salary of P12,000, no tax will be deducted and you will take home the whole amount.

Before TRAIN, if you have a monthly salary of P15,000, you are taxed with P7,000 annually. But with the newly-passed bill, you get to take home your salary full. Those who are earning P21,000 monthly will also be tax free from the P22,000 deducted yearly before.

The Department of Finance made a website specifically for your tax. You may compute your new tax and find out how much your take-home pay is. Just simply go here: http://taxcalculator.dof.gov.ph/

The revised tax package seeks to lower the rate of personal income tax, giving salaried workers extra take-home pay. However, what the consumers fear is that these savings might lose its sole purpose for the Filipinos to save more because of the higher prices of goods and services resulted by the increase in excise taxes of oil-based products.

These products include the electricity, fuel, and sweetened beverage.

The cons

With the TRAIN bill, a sweetened beverage tax of P6 per liter will be imposed on drinks using artificial sweeteners and P12 per liter tax for drinks with high fructose corn syrup.

The good thing is, not all sweetened drinks will be affected because the bill excludes all kinds of milk, natural fruit and vegetable juices, and medically indicated beverages from the sweetened beverage tax.

And for the coffee lovers, good news awaits because according to the Senate committee on ways and means, instant coffee is also exempted from the tax since it is among the most consumed food items of ordinary Filipinos.

Also, automobile and oil excise tax will rise with the new tax reform package. As you can see, cars are part of the “needs” of people nowadays as the transport system in the country isn’t something to be proud of. Now, automobile companies are seeing a slowdown of sales in the coming years with TRAIN. Even the average worker wouldn’t be able to afford it anymore.

Other products and services that will be affected by the TRAIN bill are cosmetic surgery and tobacco.

To sum everything up, the real big winners of the TRAIN bill are Filipinos making an annual taxable income of P250,000 and below as they no longer need to pay income tax come 2018.

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