Workers group urge BIR: Refund P20-B ‘illegally collected’ tax

MANILA A labor organization on Monday urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Department of Finance (DOF) to comply with the Supreme Court (SC) decision ordering them to return an estimated PHP20 billion, including interest, that were unlawfully collected from millions of minimum-wage employees in 2008.

In a statement Monday, the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) noted that there is an urgent need to return the workers their money to tide their families in the face of spiraling inflation.

Minimum wage earners need these additional cash money which they rightfully own in order to cope with the current incredible rising prices of commodities and surging costs of utilities and services. It's workers' blood money, said ALU national president Michael Mendoza.

We urge the BIR and DOF to return the money including the legal interests now. Until now, the BIR and DOF have not complied with the high court order for them to make a cash refund, he added.

The ALU-TUCP official is asking for a cash refund, including the annual legal interest, of the money earned from 2008 to 2017 which it estimates at PHP20 billion covering the 10-year period.

The SC, in its 56-page ruling on Jan. 24, 2017, nullified two provisions of BIR Revenue Regulation 10-2008 that disqualify Minimum Waged Earners (MWEs) from tax exemptions on their wage, bonus, and other compensation benefits such overtime pay, hazard pay, holiday pay, and night shift differential pay including fringe benefits in excess of PHP30,000.

The order ruled in favor of the TUCP that challenged the BIR regulation and asked for its nullification, saying that the MWEs should not be taxed because they are exempted from income tax by Republic Act 9502the law giving exemption to minimum waged workers from monthly salary tax deduction.

They added that R.A 9502 became effective June 17, 2008. However, the BIR issued Revenue Regulation 10-2008 and have collected income tax from workers for seven months before the agency suspended their collection.

Effectively, the BIR continued to collect taxes on the wage, bonuses and other benefits from millions of MWEs from June to December 2008 despite of effectivity of a law exempting minimum-waged workers from such taxes starting July 6, 2008, the group said.

For his part, Alan Tanjusay, ALU spokesperson said, We cannot understand why the BIR and the DOF is quick to squeeze money from the workers but it takes forever for them to return what they illegally collected. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency