Teachers press for retention of tax exemption on honoraria for poll duties

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Wednesday called on the leaders of the Congress to override President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s veto on the bill giving tax exemption on the honoraria and allowances for election service.

The teachers issued the call during a protest action in front of the House of Representatives.

“If the President can’t see the sacrifices of teachers every election, I hope our legislators can see it and we hope they listen,” said Ruby Bernardo, spokesperson of ACT Philippines.

The progressive teachers group said they would ask the members of Congress to support their call.

Earlier, House Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro said imposing taxes on the honoraria and allowances of election service volunteers destroys the spirit and intent of the Election Service Reform Act or Republic Act 10756 to compensate the hardships of persons rendering election service.

“They must therefore enjoy the compensation in full and not bear additional burdens,” Castro added.

“Add to this the fact that no tax was ever imposed on the honoraria and other election service benefits until 2018, since there is no law providing for such imposition,” she added.

President Marcos vetoed a bill that would exempt from income tax the honoraria of people who volunteered during the polls.

Press Secretary Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles said the Palace thumbed down House Bill No. 9651 and Senate Bill No. 2520, which would have granted the income tax exemption, as it is contrary to provisions of Republic Act No. 10963 or the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN).

“Moreover, the studies of pertinent government agencies on the revenue loss is too substantial an impact to be foregone,” Cruz-Angeles said.

In a related development, Deputy Minority Leader France Castro, meanwhile, welcomed the pronouncement of the Department of Education (DepEd) to hire more non-teaching personnel to relieve teachers of administrative tasks.

“We welcome the plan of the Department of Education to hire more non-teaching personnel to relieve teachers from their admin tasks and focus on their teaching. For so long, we have had clinic teachers, teacher-librarian, teacher-clerks, canteen teachers, feeding teachers, registrar teachers, teacher-guidance counselors, teacher nutritionists, property custodian teachers, and many other tasks shouldered by teachers due to the lack of education support personnel hired by our government. Hiring enough education support personnel per school for these specific and specialized tasks will allow teachers to concentrate and prepare for their classes,” Castro said.

“We hope that the Department of Education would release guidelines as to what kind of education support personnel they would hire and we hope that they would start hiring in time for the reopening of classes. We also urge the DepEd to release guidelines, amend or repeal those existing which allow the assignments to teachers of tasks not related to teaching,” Castro added.