PRRD wants lifting of bank secrecy in Tax Amnesty law

By Azer Parrocha

February 18, 2019, 4:12 pm

MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed but partially vetoed the Tax Amnesty Act (R.A. 11213) because it did not contain a provision that lifted bank secrecy for fraud cases, Malacañang said on Monday.

In his veto message, the President emphasized his desire to include “provisions breaking down the walls of bank secrecy” to prevent fraud, particularly among government workers.

"Without the provisions breaking down the walls of bank secrecy, setting the legal framework for us to comply with international standards on exchange of information for tax purposes, and safeguarding against those who abuse the amnesty by declaring an untruthful asset or net worth, a general amnesty that is overgenerous and unregulated would create an environment ripe for future tax evasion, the very thing we wish to address," Duterte said.

"I ask Congress to pass another general tax amnesty bill that includes the lifting of bank secrecy for fraud cases, the inclusion of automatic exchange of information, and safeguards to ensure that asset or net worth declarations are truthful. With these provisions, the general tax amnesty will meet both its tax administration and revenue purposes," he added.

Duterte also warned that without these measures, the government and the Filipinos n general will incur long-term substantial revenue losses.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday explained that the President believed that its lack of provisions to prevent fraud would create an environment “conducive for tax evasion.”

“He (Duterte) believes that such measure would be prone to abuse by those who would declare assets or net worth not reflective of their real income, in light of present laws mandating confidentiality of all bank deposits,” Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said that lifting bank secrecy would help prevent fraud because it would provide easier access to checking government workers’ Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs).

Kung ili-lift mo nga naman ‘yun di ka makapag sinungaling kasi madali tingnan yung deposits mo sa bangko (If you lift bank secrecy, they won’t be able to lie about it because it would be easier to check your bank deposits),” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Panelo, meanwhile, expressed hope that Congress would respond to the President’s call to lift bank secrecy.

“I think he (Duterte) has already made his position on the matter so it’s for Congress to respond,” Panelo said.

“We have members of the Congress as honorable and responsive to the needs. We are confident that members of Congress will fulfill their duty to the Filipino people as mandated by the Constitution which is they should be honest in all dealings and they should pursue a policy of accountability and transparency in the realm of governance,” he added.

On Friday, Duterte signed the Tax Amnesty Act describing it as "an important part of this administration's tax reform program."

Duterte said the Amnesty Law is about "rebuilding trust between the government and the people”.

Under the law, it also allows taxpayers failing in their tax obligations to have a fresh start and be free from the civil and criminal consequences due to their neglect of their obligations to pay taxes. (PNA)