Teachers to receive election duty honorarium in cash, seeks removal of tax

MANILA, Philippines – Public school teachers who will serve on the incoming May 2019 election can now expect to receive their honorarium in cash.

Teachers seeks removal of tax in their election service compensation
Teachers seek removal of tax in their election service compensation | Photo Courtesy: COMELEC

Commission on Elections Spokesman James Jimenez confirmed that instead of cash cards, teachers who will serve as Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) on election day will now receive their honorarium in cash.

The Comelec Project Management Office (PMO) Deputy Project Director Teopisto Elnas even announced that payroll for the election officers were already released for the corresponding amount for each city and municipality.

Pursuant to the the Election Service Reform Act (ESRA), poll workers can still expect the corresponding honoraria:

  • P6,000 - Chairperson of the Electoral Boards
  • P5,000 - Members of Electoral Boards
  • P4,000 - Department of Education Supervisor Official (DESO)
  • P2,000 - Support Staff

“Buwis buhay na, may buwis pa”

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) released a statement seeking for the removal of tax to their poll duty honoraria. The group said there is no legal basis for the imposition of tax on their allowances and honoraria.

Last year, the Bureau of Internal Revenue deducted a 5% withholding tax on the honoraria received by teachers who served in the barangay elections. Previous honoraria were not deemed taxable since the passing of ESRA of 2015.

The teachers group lamented how teachers have to endure the life threatening and yet heavily taxed task of serving during election.

Ruby Anna Bernardo, Spokesperson of ACT Teachers’ Election Hotline said, “The unjustified taxing of our poll service compensation brought forth a string of problems to teachers that causes bitterness to teachers as they perform their otherwise noble and nationalist duty of facilitating the people’s exercise of their right to vote.”

ACT reiterated that while a tax refund may be possible if the honoraria were below the minimum allowable tax exemptions for the year, there were teachers who reported not receiving their refunds all. Thus, teachers were forced to “undergo a tedious process involving several unnecessary paperwork in order to process the refund."

ACT, further questioned the 5% tax deducted from the travel allowances of Electoral Board members who attended BEI training. They highlighted that under ESRA, teachers who serve elections duties are entitled to a travel allowance of at least P1,000.

The group claimed that such actions towards teachers were unjust because it "destroys the spirit and intent of the ESRA, which is to compensate the hardships of persons rendering election service."

Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, both of ACT Teachers party-list had filed House Bill 8542 which seeks that honoraria and allowances of teacher who serve poll duty "shall not be included in the computation of gross income and shall be exempt from income tax."

Filed in November, the bill is still pending under the House Committee on Ways and Means.

The BIR justified the imposing of tax on election service compensation for the first time last year, saying “all cash that flow through the hands of an individual is considered income and should be subjected to taxation’’.

— Sally, The Summit Express

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