Tax-free poll pay

October 07, 2018

Should compensation for patriotic acts or personal services rendered to country be subjected to tax?

We know and believe that patriotism should be its own reward.

But workers already in the government service and made to perform other work such as reporting for election duties at polling precincts should be given allowances, including hazard pay.

And these additional benefits or extra pay should not be taxed as a form of appreciation by the state for their patriotic services.

And so, we agree with and support a lady lawmaker in pushing this proposal.

Teachers who will volunteer to supervise the conduct of elections in the country should receive a tax-free compensation, Sen. Nancy Binay said.

Binay has introduced a bill in the Senate which seeks to exempt from income tax the compensation given to teachers whenever they serve as members of the electoral board during national or local poll exercises.

"Teachers are often said to be heroes of every election season. They are often called on to be on the frontlines, serving as members of the Board of Election Tellers (BET) tasked with operating the Vote Counting Machine (VCM) and assisting voters on Election Day. Unfortunately, the election season is prone to incidents of election-related violence and deaths," Sen. Binay said.

The government should recognize the public service that teachers perform during national and local elections by at least exempting from income tax the compensation given to them, she said.

Under present laws, compensation for services in whatever form paid, including but limited to fees, salaries, wages, commissions and similar items are included in gross income and taxable.

Binay, in Senate bill No. 1941, proposed to exclude from computation of gross income all compensation received by teachers for services rendered during elections, thus, exempted from income tax.

During the May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, about half a million out of the nearly 900,000 public school teachers volunteered to supervise the polls.

In the said poll exercise, the Philippine National Police (PNP) classified 4,970 areas as orange hotspots which noted the "presence of armed groups and organized movements outside the law", 2,071 as yellow hotspots, referring to places with "history of political unrest" and 597 red hotspots or areas in "critical situation."

The said bill has already been referred by the Senate to the Committees on Ways and Means and Electoral Reforms and People's Participation last Aug. 28.