‘Bagong Pilipinas, bagong tax’: Pinoys notice additional tax measures in Marcos SONA

July 25, 2023 - 4:58 PM
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Calculating taxes
Economist using calculator while going through bills and taxes (Image by Drazen Zigic on Freepik)

More taxes for Filipinos.

This was what some social media users thought when President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivered his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 24.

The chief executive assured Filipinos that the country is on track to attaining economic growth after the COVID-19 pandemic upended livelihoods and other ways of life in the past years.

Marcos said that despite challenges, the country is still among the fastest-growing economies in the world and that inflation is “moving in the right direction.”

He added that the Philippines posted a 7.6% economic growth in 2022, which he said is the “highest growth rate in 46 years.”

The president also mentioned that his administration envisions tax and revenue efforts to further increase “up to 16.9% and 17.3% by 2028.”

Marcos then called on Congress to support his priority legislations which included additional tax measures, specifically citing his administration’s Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF).

Some of the proposed tax measures he mentioned were the excise tax on single-use plastics, value-added tax (VAT) on digital services, and the road user’s tax.

Last year, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that Marcos’ economic team was looking into recommending the passage of the legislation to tax single-use plastics and digital services.

The proposed additional tax measures were noticed by some Filipinos who tuned in to Marcos’ second SONA.

“Hello, new taxes. #Pilipinas, kaya pa ba? #sona2023 #goldenera #bagongpilipinas,” a Twitter user commented.

“Bagong Pilipinas. Bagong tax,” market analyst John Paul Tanyag commented.

“What I’ve heard about the state of the nation — the Marcos Jr. government is still groping along blindly a year into power; plenty of stop-gap initiatives but lacking in coherent vision for the country and steps to get there. And a series of new taxes is forthcoming! #SONA2023,” political scientist Cleve Arguelles said.

“Hayan, dagdag buwis ang kanyang alam. Ang pahirapan lalo ang mga kumikita ng kakarampot,” a Facebook user commented.

Apart from possibly contributing more tax in the future, Filipinos are facing an increase in the prices of commodities in the local market.

Some social media users scored Marcos for claiming in the earlier parts of his speech that they had significantly reduced.

RELATED: Checking Marcos’ SONA on inflation: Are prices of goods really low now?

For instance, some household staples that have seen price hikes are onions, sugar, and eggs. Last January, Philippine onions had prices that were seven times higher than the global average.

Meanwhile, reports said sugars had a 40% price jump from June to August 2022. Eggs also saw a 40% price hike since June 2022.

What for?

Reports said that the tax measures Marcos has mentioned in his SONA aim to steer the country back to a high growth trajectory.

Last year, it was reported that the country needed to raise P249 billion every year in incremental revenues for the next ten years to pay the country’s P3.2 trillion in incremental debt incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To raise such an amount, the Department of Finance has proposed to “raise revenues, improve tax administration, and cut unnecessary spending with fiscal reforms” in its fiscal consolidation and resource mobilization plan.

Meanwhile, Diokno previously said that the proposed taxation on single-use plastics was part of the country’s commitment to addressing climate change. The Philippines is one of the top plastic polluters in the world.

On taxing digital services, he said that it was a way for the government to earn additional revenues.

“In response to recent developments and on the basis of fairness, we intend to tax online purchases because if you buy a product from a regular store, you pay tax, and I think we should also pay tax [on] online sales,” Diokno said before.

On the other hand, if the road user tax is implemented, the Development Budget Coordination Committee said it is expected to contribute P15.8 billion in revenue.

Diokno said that such tax measures would have an impact on the 2024 budget.