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Axe on taxpayer adds to misery

HONG KONG (SE): Migrant rights groups in Hong Kong and Macau have criticised the new taxation scheme of Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, saying it will cause inflation at home and increase their financial burdens, as they may need to remit even more money just to meet the needs of their families.
 
The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) measure, signed into law on 19 December 2017, reduces personal income taxes while raising duties on fuel, cars, coal and sugar-sweetened drinks. The income generated will be used to fund the infrastructure programmes.
 
In a statement issued on January 11, the BAYAN-New Partriotic Alliance Hong Kong and Macau, said the tax scheme will only benefit the foreign enterprises and local oligarchs who are involved in the infrastructure projects, while the poor and the overseas workers who are the main breadwinners of the family will suffer.
 
The group expects that in the next few months, rates of public utilities as well as transportation will increase. Food prices will also soar as the additional taxes on oil impact production and distribution. Such increases will have grave impact on overseas workers who are hard pressed by minimally increased wages, face huge debts, extortionate recruitment fees, as well as financial challenges in providing for the education and health needs of their children. 
 
The statement said the tax scheme goes against the president’s promise to help them to return home for good and will instead keep them working abroad for a long time.
 
The group pointed out the tax scheme makes the situation worse by doubling the documentary stamp tax from 30 centavos ($0.05) to 60 centavos ($0.09) for every 200 pesos ($30) of remittance sent to the Philippines. The increase in remittance fees will increase the load on poor families already burdened by the increase in various prices.
 
Carlos Dominguez, the finance secretary, was quoted by ABS-CBN News as saying that the measure was just the first phase of the tax reform scheme and that the Congress is expected to approve the second phase, composed mainly of tax administrative measures, in the first quarter of 2018.
 
Under the new tax law, almost all the 7.5 million income-tax payers in the country should see a reduction in their tax rates in 2018. Those with an annual salary of 250,000 pesos ($38,313), or those earning approximately 22,000 pesos ($3,372) a month and below, are now exempt from income tax. 

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