Workers call for tax breaks amid price surge

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Friday, June 27, 2014

EVEN as the Aquino administration scrambles to find ways to help people cope with the increase in prices of basic commodities, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) urged the government to give workers tax breaks.

In a statement, TUCP executive vice president Gerard Seno said that in the absence of a wage adjustment for workers, giving tax breaks will still help them cope with soaring prices of basic commodities and cost of services.

"His executive action on this one will put more disposable income into workers' pocket and improve their purchasing power in the light of inflation," said Seno.

In recent weeks, the prices of garlic, rice, sugar as well as petroleum products have gone up aside from the increase in the minimum jeepney fare.

Aquino has already called a Cabinet cluster meeting to address concerns about the recent price increases.

Seno noted how enhancing the fringe de minimis tax benefits has already been proposed to Aquino as early as April 29 during their pre-Labor Day meeting in Malacanang.

"It's been more than a month since this tax break proposal was shown with the President and there has been no response from him since then," said Seno.

Under their proposal, the workers urged the government to revise the monetized unused vacation leave credits from the current 10 days to 15 days; retain the monetized value of vacation and sick leave credits paid to government officials and employees; medical cash allowance to dependents from P750 to P1,500 per employee per month; rice subsidy from P1,500 to P2,500 or 1 sack of 50kg of rice per month; and uniform and clothing allowance from P4,000 to P6,000 per year.

Also being sought by workers’ groups are adjustment in medical allowance to cover medical and healthcare needs, annual medical executive check-up, maternity assistance and routine consultation from P10,000 to P15,000; laundry allowance from P300 to P900; employees achievement awards in the form of tangible personal property other than cash gift or gift certificate with annual value not exceeding P10,000 to P15,000; gifts given during Christmas and major anniversary celebrations from P5,000 to P10,000 per year per employee; and daily meal allowance for overtime work and night/graveyard shift from 25 percent to 34 percent of the basic minimum wage per region.

The fringe de minimis benefits are defined as facilities or privileges that are not subject to any tax given or offered by an employer to employees as a means of encouraging productivity in the workforce and to promote the company’s goodwill and appreciation to its employees.

Earlier, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said workers should refer to the respective anniversaries of the latest wage orders in their regions to know when salary adjustments would come.

According to the law, all wage orders issued may not be disturbed for a period of 12 months from its effectivity, and no petition for wage increase shall be entertained within the said period unless there are supervening conditions, such as extraordinary increase in prices of petroleum products and basic goods/services. (HDT/Sunnex)

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