Press Release
September 1, 2015

Senate approves VAT exemption for PWDs

A bill seeking to exempt persons with disabilities (PWDs) from paying the mandatory 12 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services was approved on third and final reading in the Senate today.

Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2890, said the passage of the bill into law would exempt PWDs from paying the 12 percent VAT on top of the 20 percent discount they were entitled to on particular goods and services.

According to Angara, "the new tax breaks under SBN 2890 are part of growing government programs and policies meant to assist the sick and handicapped and uplift them in their moments of need, as mandated under existing laws such as Republic Act 7277."

Republic Act 7277, also known as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, provides a 20 percent discount for PWDs on the sale of goods and services such as medicines, medical and dental services, hospital and laboratory fees, local transport fares, restaurants, hotels, theaters and educational assistance.

Angara added that the proposed law also "aligns the PWD law with that of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 or Republic Act 9994, which provides a VAT exemption to senior citizens on top of their 20 percent discount on particular goods and services." Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, principal author of the bill, said the proposed law also sought to provide additional income tax exemption amounting to P25,000 to those caring for PWDs who are incapable of supporting themselves regardless of their age.

"The tax deduction is the same as what is currently claimed by a parent of a child not over the age of 21, which is P25, 000 annually. It is only right to remove the age criteria for a PWD-dependent because caring for him or her does not have a fixed expiry date. In many cases, it extends from cradle to grave," he said.

Recto said the current P100-million earmarked for the purchase of books and equipment for special education should also be expanded next year.

Likewise, he said, more classrooms and construction activities to make streets, sidewalks, pedestrian overpasses, public buildings and highways more accessible to PWDs should be undertaken.

Angara said that SBN 2890 will prove to be a great benefit and relief to the country's PWDs, which he pointed out had significantly increased over the years.

He cited statistics from the Census on Population and Housing which pegged the number of PWDs at 1.443 million or 1.57 percent of the total population in 2010. The figure, he said, showed a substantial increase from a similar study in 2000 where the number of PWDs was only 935,551, or 1.23 percent of that year's population.

The 2010 study also showed that the highest number of PWDs was found in Region IV-A or the Calabarzon Region with 193,000 PWDs, followed by the National Capital Region with 167,000 PWDs. The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) registered the lowest rate of PWDs at 26,000.

Aside from Recto, the bill was also authored by Senators Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV and Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay. It was co-sponsored by Sen. Pia Cayetano. (Olive Caunan)

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