Committee on Ways and Means approves 50 discount and VAT exemption of centenarians

The House Committee on Ways and Means has approved a tax provision in
the proposed “Centenarians Act of 2010” granting 50 percent discount
and value-added tax exemption on the sale of goods and services to
Filipino centenarians or those persons 100 years of age or above.

House Bill 834 or the proposed “Centenarians Act of 2010” authored by
Minority Leader Edcel Lagman passed earlier by the House Committee on
Population and Family Relation, was referred to the Committee on Ways
and Means specifically for approval of the bill’s tax provision
contained in Section 5 of the bill.

Section 5 of the bill states that “all centenarians shall be entitled
to the grant of 50 percent discount and exemption from the VAT, if
applicable, on the sale of goods and services from all establishments,
for the exclusive use and enjoyment or availment of senior citizens,
amending for the purpose Section 4 of Republic Act 7432, as amended by
Republic Act 9257, and further amended by RA 9994 otherwise known as
the “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.”

The approval of Section 5 of HB 834 was made during a recent hearing
of the Committee on Ways and Means presided by Rep. Reynaldo Umali
(2nd District, Oriental Mindoro), a committee vice chairman.

Elsa Agustin, an economist of the Department of Finance (DOF),
informed the committee there are some 8,000 Filipino centenarians
based on the 2010 estimate of the National Statistics (NSO).

Umali urged Congress to fast track passage of House Bill 834 so these
centenarians could enjoy the proposed benefits and privileges while
they are still living.

“The approval is a gesture of recognition of our centenarians for
living a healthy lifestyle and to help them in their economic
condition,” Umali said.

Agustin said the DOF supports the bill but would prefer giving a
P100,000 cash gift to each centenarian rather than granting VAT
exemption.

“The P100,000 cash gift is a more transparent form of subsidy for
centenarians. There has been a huge leak in the VAT implementation,”
Agustin said.

Section 2 of the bill provides that on his or her 100th birthday,
every Filipino residing in the Philippines or abroad shall be honored
with a letter of felicitation from the President of the Philippines
congratulating the celebrant for his or her longevity, and a
Centenarian’s Gift in the amount of P100,000 chargeable against the
Contingent Fund.

Section 3 provides that as part of the annual Family Week celebration
from September 19 to 28, the 25th shall be declared as National
Respect for Centenarians Day during which all Filipinos who have
turned centenarian in the current fiscal year shall be awarded a
plaque of recognition and a cash incentive by their respective city or
municipal governments in appropriate ceremonies in addition to the
recognition and P100,000 cash gift provided in Section 2. The amount
of cash incentive shall be determined by the concerned local
government unit.

Lagman said the government should provide psychological and pecuniary
incentives to centenarians, sterling citizens who have led exemplary
long lives which every Filipino must be inspired by and aspire for.

“Today, given the level of the country’s development, the average
Filipino can expect to live to only 71 years. Living to be a
centenarian, or three decades past the life expectancy, is therefore
an achievement and a distinction worthy of emulation and public
recognition,” he said.

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