Press Release
April 15, 2016


BUTUAN CITY--Independent vice-presidential contender Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said the "Gobyernong may Puso" will cut down the income tax rates to increase the take-home pay of millions of Filipino salaried workers, who are among the most heavily taxed people in Asia.

Escudero said that lowering the country's personal income tax rate, which at 32 percent is one of the highest in the continent, will be the on top of the legislative agenda of her running mate, Sen. Grace Poe, if she becomes president.

"Tayo ang may pinakamataas na buwis sa Asya. Panahon na po talaga para babaan 'yan. Sa unang araw ng aming termino, bababaan po namin ang buwis lalo na ang income tax na binabayad ng mga manggagawa," Escudero said in a radio interview in this former capital city of Agusan del Norte province.

He said that if the government cannot raise the salaries of private sector employees, it might as well ease their tax burden to boost their take-home pay and help them keep up with the rising cost of living.

"Kung hindi namin mapapataas ang sweldo ng ating mga kababayan, mapapataas naman namin ang kanilang take-home pay," said Escudero, who is responsible for exempting minimum wage earners from paying the income tax, or Republic Act 9504.

There are around 39 million people comprising the nation's labor force and about 36 million of them are in the private sector.

While the country's estimated 1.53 million state workers have been recently granted an increase in pay and benefits, private sector employees only received minimal pay increases in the last five years, the latest of which was in April 2015 when P15 was added to the daily minimum wage in Metro Manila.

The wage adjustment, the fifth under the Aquino administration, raised the minimum pay to P481 for workers in the non-agriculture sector from P404 in 2010.

Since 1997, when the Tax Reform Act was passed, tax brackets in the Philippines have not changed. Salaries, however, have been adjusted to inflation, pushing more wage and salary workers into higher brackets, which compel them to pay higher taxes.

According to the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines, the 32-percent individual tax rate in the country for income over P500,000 is the second highest in Southeast Asia and the seventh highest in the entire continent.

Japan, which has a top marginal tax rate of 50 percent, is the highest in Asia.

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