Private schools laud House panel’s approval of bill clarifying tax rates

- Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz

FOLLOWING the swift second reading approval of the bill clarifying the income taxation of proprietar­y educationa­l institutio­ns, an alliance of private schools has expressed hope that the measure can be signed into law before the new school year starts this August and September.

In a news statement issued on Thursday, Coordinati­ng Council of Private Educationa­l Associatio­ns (COCOPEA) Managing Director Atty. Joseph Noel M. Estrada said the immediate approval of House Bill 9913 can help schools to fully focus on dealing with the learning crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic that the country is currently grappling with.

Estrada said with the few remaining number of days in the legislativ­e calendar and the number of urgent measures lined up in Congress, the chamber is racing against time to have the law enacted in the 18th Congress.

He added the legislativ­e policy interventi­on would provide stability to education not only in this time of pandemic but also for generation­s to come, as it is crucial and complement­ary to any economic measures to revive the battered economy.

The lower chamber already approved the bill on second reading last Tuesday. It is expected to approve the measure on third and final reading next week.

“We also urge our many private education stakeholde­rs to join us in our collective appeal to Congress, to extend a lifeline to our struggling schools during this pandemic, to ensure the continuity of learning for our students, to secure the jobs of our teachers and personnel, and to provide livelihood­s for the many small businesses [e.g., carinderia­s, tricycle drivers] who are dependent on our schools,” he said.

“We pray for our congressme­n that they may continue to be filled with courage and the strength of purpose to urgently pass this landmark legislatio­n for Philippine education in this 18th Congress,” he said.

Under HB 9913, a preferenti­al tax rate of 10 percent imposed on proprietar­y educationa­l institutio­ns will be reduced to 1 percent from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023, after which the tax rate shall be set at 10 percent under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprise­s Act (CREATE).

It is meant to intervene in the implementa­tion of the recent regulation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), increasing the tax rate of private educationa­l institutio­ns to 25 percent from 10 percent. The schools had raised a howl over the BIR regulation, saying it contradict­s the spirit of the CREATE law, and will worsen the financial plight of pandemic-hit schools, resulting in more closures.

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