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Philippine Taxation System Essay

I. Introduction

On hearing the word tax, what usually springs to mind are images of infrastructures, businesses and projects beneficial to the general welfare of the people, or more negatively, the idea of corruption and dirty tricks especially nowadays when numerous issues are colouring the taxation system of the country. With these, today, its importance seems to be overlooked and is viewed more negatively as a burden to the people. Currently, the individual income tax rate in the Philippines stands at 32 percent, which is third highest in the entire Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) region, next to Thailand and Vietnam. A number of the country’s lawmakers already have their hands on this matter and encourages the government to take actions in lowering it down. This matter has become especially important now that the Asean integration free-for-all market in 2015 is nearing. It is important to understand taxation and to determine how well it fits the economy of a country for it is a key factor on its growth.

The taxation system has been a hot economic issue and has been causing rage and fury among the people. Clearly, it is a national issue that needs immediate attention and action as it affects the whole of the nation. It will be an agonizing thought if what is known to be the “lifeblood of the government” will be the very one thing that sucks “life” out of its people. What’s supposed to be used to finance the basic services such as education and health care as well as infrastructure–which are all vital to the economy’s growth and the improvement of the lives of the people– could be the very same thing that seem to limit the capability of the people to improve their own lives and unforgivingly take away the food in the Filipinos tables. Or is it not?

Objectives of the Study

The study is aimed to determine the following:
1. The fiscal adequacy
2. Administrative feasibility
3. Equity
4. And the consistency and compatibility of the Philippine taxation system with the Nation’s Economic Direction.

Significance of the Study

The study is intended to increase the awareness of the readers on the Philippine taxation system. It is specifically addressed to: taxpayers, students and educators.

Scope and Limitation of the study

The study involves 7 participants who pay taxes for at least 3 years. The participants are selected to represent different social and industry classes.

II. Review of Related Literature

Nature and Purpose of Taxation

Taxation may be defined as the inherent right of the state to levy and collect a portion of each individual and entity’s income from productive endeavors within the states’ political boundaries.

Since taxation is inherent right of the state, meaning, absolute right, taxation laws were enacted to limit this right. That is the reason why taxation is graduated, and in most countries, it is progressive. Graduated, meaning, that taxes to be paid are divided into several brackets of income; and progressive, meaning, that the higher the income, the higher will be the tax rate to be paid, and vice-versa.

Taxation is very important for the government to exist. Without it, no government can ever exist, as taxes are the lifeblood of the government.

Citizens pay taxes in the expectation that the government will protect them with the necessary environment to enable them to live in safety and perform them with the necessary environment to enable them to live in safety and perform their productive activities without fear or hesitation.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue is the tax-collecting arm of the government for individual and corporate income taxes. The Bureau of Customs is the government-collecting arm for import taxation. (Cuevas et al., 2012)

Procedure of Taxation

Taxation is legislative in character. As such, all tax measures emanate from the Congress. The House of Representatives enact taxation bills. Then it goes to the Senate. Then to the joint conference committee and finally, to the Malacañang Palace for the President’s approval or in few instances, veto.

Once the tax measure is approved and published in the official gazette, it becomes a law. It is then forwarded to the tax collection agency concerned for implementation. Normally, the concerned agency drafts an implementing guideline for the guidance of the line personnel whol will actually implement the law to avoid any possible misinterpretation of its implementation.

The tax measure normally provides for sanctions and penalties for violators. Principal violations include tax evasion and tax avoidance. (Cuevas et al. 2012) `

Sound Taxation System

A sound taxation system should have Fiscal Adequacy, Administrative Feasibility, Equity and consistent and compatible with the nation’s economic direction. The level of taxes collected should be sufficient enough to fund government operations and projects. A tax collection that is less than sufficient will cause fiscal deficit that can stoke inflation. Taxation laws should be easy to understand; that the existing personnel and other administrative resources of the tax collecting office are sufficient and capable of implementing existing taxation laws. Taxation should be progressive and fair. For example, those individual some should pay higher tax rates, and those with low income should either be exempted from taxes or pay negligible amounts of taxes. The government’s tax collection efforts should be supportive of the economy’s short- and long-term plans. (Cuevas et al., 2012)

Equity

Recently, the public officials have been confronted with allegations of corruptions and inefficient populist schemes. To name a few, the PDAF scam, DAP scam, political grandstanding to bring down 2016 election potential rivals, the alleged overpricing of Makati City parking lot and the 700 million Iloilo convention center. These facts combined with unforgiving tax collection campaign has resulted to negative sentiments about the equitability of taxation in the country. “The tax being imposed by the government is too much. They even want to tax us my sari-sari store. The mere payment of business requirements already hurts my store. I am working for my family not for the government. The government wants to take all our earnings.” said by a sari-sari store owner in Del Pilar, Castillejos. “My take home pay is cut into half because of the deductions and tax imposed to us. My gross salary, to be honest is not enough, then they will deduct us (tax and contributions) and you will find out from the media that our taxes were corrupted by a syndicate in the government” said by a college instructor in Gordon College.

People Respond to Incentives

An incentive is something that induces a person to act, such as the prospect of a punishment or a reward. Because rational people make decisions by comparing costs and benefits, they respond to incentives. Incentives are crucial to analyzing how market work. For example, when the price of an apple rises, people decide to eat fewer apples. At the same, time, apple orchards decide to hire more workers and harvest more apples. In other words, a higher price in a market provides and incentive to buyers to consume less and an incentive for sellers to produce more. (Mankiw, 2013)

Public policymakers should never forget about incentives: Many policies change the costs or benefits that people face and, therefore, alter their behaviour. A tax on gasoline, for instance, encourages people to drive smaller, more fuel efficient cars. (Mankiw, 2013)

Fiscal Drag

Fiscal drag happens when the government’s net fiscal position (spending minus taxation) fails to cover the net savings desires of the private economy, also called the private economy’s spending gap (earnings minus spending and private investment). The resulting lack of aggregate demand leads to deflationary pressure, or drag, on the economy, essentially due to lack of state spending or to excess taxation. One cause of fiscal drag may be bracket creep, where progressive taxation increases automatically as taxpayers move into higher tax brackets due to inflation. This tends to moderate inflation, and can be characterized as an automatic stabilizer to the economy. Fiscal drag can also be a result of a hawkish stance towards government finances. (www.wikipedia.org)

Bracket creep describes the process by which inflation pushes nominal wages and salaries into higher tax brackets. Many progressive tax systems are not adjusted for inflation. As wages and salaries rise in nominal terms under the influence of inflation they become more highly taxed, even though in real terms the value of the wages and salaries has not increased at all. The net effect is that in real terms taxes rise unless the tax rates or brackets are adjusted to compensate. (www.wikipedia.org)

Supply-Side Effects of Fiscal Policy

The changes in tax rates, particularly marginal tax rates, affect aggregate supply through their impact on the relative attractiveness of productive activity in comparison to leisure and tax avoidance. Supply –side tax cuts are a long-term growth-oriented strategy that will eventually increase both SRAS and LRAS.

Keynesian Model

Keynesian economics was developed by the British economist John Maynard Keynes during the 1930s in an attempt to understand the Great Depression. Keynes advocated increased government expenditures and lower taxes to stimulate demand and pull the global economy out of tGrohe Depression. Subsequently, the term “Keynesian economics” was used to refer to the concept that optimal economic performance could be achieved – and economic slumps prevented – by influencing aggregate demand through activist stabilization and economic intervention policies by the government. Keynesian economics is considered to be a “demand-side” theory that focuses on changes in the economy over the short run. (www.investopedia.com)

Crowding-out Model

Crowding out is a kind of expansionary fiscal policy, reduces investment spending. The increased borrowing ‘crowds out’ private investing. Originally, crowding out was related to an increase in interest rates from the borrowing, but that was broadened to multiple channels that might leave total output little changed or smaller. (Blanchard, 2008)

One channel of crowding out is a reduction in private investment that occurs because of an increase in government borrowing. If an increase in government spending and/or a decrease in tax revenues leads to a deficit that is financed by increased borrowing, then the borrowing can increase interest rates, leading to a reduction in private investment. There is some controversy in modern macroeconomics on the subject, as different schools of economic thought differ on how households and financial markets would react to more government borrowing under various circumstances. (Tyson, 2012)

The Benefits Principle

The benefits principle states that people should pay taxes based on the benefits they receive from government services. This principle tries to make public goods similar to private goods. It seems fair that a person who often goes to the movies pays more in total for movie tickets than a person who rarely goes. Similarly, a person who gets great benefit from a public good should pay more for it than a person who gets little benefit. The benefits principle can also be used to argue that wealthy citizens should pay higher taxes than poorer ones simply because the wealthy benefit more from public services. For example, the benefits of police protection from theft.

Citizens with much to protect benefit more from police than do those with less to protect. Therefore, according to benefits principle, the wealthy should contribute more than the poor to the cost of maintaining the police force. The same argument can be used for many other punlic services, such as fire protection, national defense, and the court system. It is even possible to use the benefits principle to argue for antipoverty programs funded by taxes on the wealthy. (Mankiw, 2013)

The Ability-to-Pay Principle

The ability-to-pay principle states that taxes should be levied on a person according to how well that person can shoulder the burden. This principle is sometimes justified by the claim that all citizens should make and “equal sacrifice” to support the government.

1. What is tax?
A –
B – “yan yung pahirap satin lahat. Ayaw ko nga magbayad nyan kasi hindi naman sa maganda mapupunta yang tax na yan. Sobra na nga yung paniningil ng gobyerno. Kahit sa sari-sari store gusto nilang kuhanan ng tax. Yung simpleng pambayad nga lang ng business permit ang hirap na eh. Gusto ata nila para sa kanila magtrabaho. C – “it is the life blood of the government” D – “The money extorted from productive people to fill the gov’t bank accounts.” F – “Kaltas sa sahod. 336 na lang babawasan pa nila” G – It is the money collected by the government from its citizens

2. What do you think is the purpose of taxation?
A – Para may pondo ang gobyerno pampagawa ng project
B – pampagawa ng mga daan at sweldo ng mga emplyado sa gobyerno C – “It is used to fund different government projects. Some economists say that taxation reallocates wealth from the rich to the poor because of the progressive taxation system that we have.” D – The purpose of tax is to fund public necessities, services and improvements needed by all citizens with no bias to their status in society. F – “para sa mga projects ng gobyerno”

G – For the general welfare and protection of the country’s citizens and for the development of the economy.

3. For you what is equitable taxation?
A – “wala ako idea”
B – “dapat yung mayayaman mas malaki babayaran na tax kasi kaya nila magbayad di ba? Sila pa nga nandadaya pagdating sa bayaran ng tax tapos kaming mahihirap yung gigipitin ng BIR dyan sa pagbabayad ng tax.” C – “Progressive taxation because this type of taxation uses the paying capability of the taxpayer as a basis on how much he or she will be taxed.” D – Equitable tax will depend on how much good public services are and how much improvement to be done. F – “basta pantay-pantay”

G – it’s when taxes are collected depending on the social class or income bracket.

4. How much is your annual income?
C – “My take home pay is cut into half because of the deductions and tax imposed to us. My gross salary, to be honest is not enough, then they will deduct us (tax and contributions) and you will find out from the media that our taxes were corrupted by a syndicate in the government”

5. How much do you pay for taxes annually?
D – “32% of my annual income. Which I would not want to disclose as per q#4. Hehe” 6. Do hire an accountant to deal with tax payments?
A – “Nope. Bookkeeper lang.”
B – “Hindi”
C – “Nope”
D – “No. My employer hires accountants to do our taxes” F – “Hindi.”

7. What do you feel about our country’s economic outlook?
A – “Sabi nila tumataas daw economic growth ng pilipinas pero di ko masyadong ramdam”.

D – ”Asean economic is on hype right now and will eventually peak after 15 or 20years if no war will occur. Philippine econ is growing by single digit but the market per industry per capita is growing double digits faster than national econs totality. It is safe to say that now is the best time to invest in ph market.”

8. Are you satisfied on how the government provide its services to the public? Why? A – “di masyado satisfied, wala pa ding nakikitang improvement.” D – “Yes. There are many improvements on public services. The only problem is the public is not well aware of those improvements and how they can utilize it.” G – “No, I think priorities are not being properly set and attended to.”

9. For you what is the most efficient tax rate?

A – Dahil medyo nag hihirap pa ang pilipinas, ok na siguro ang tax rate ngayon, basta wag lang makurakot, pag konti konti umaangat yung economy dapat baba din yung tax rate. B – 5 %
C – 20%
D – 9.3%
E – “I don’t give interviews this way. But I’ll answer question 9. As other questions can be answered through interment and books. The most efficient tax system is the flat tax. I propose a 10 % flat rate across the board. This most fair and efficient of all. Done in more than 43 countries and by the most successful ones. Please research on my interviews. Just google my name and flat tax. You’ll find all you need for this issue. Thanks” F – 10%

G – less than 30%

V. Discussion

Most of the respondents agree that an equitable tax system should ask the taxpayers to contribute to the cost of public services based on ability to pay. Tax payments are indeed the lifeblood of the government, any government will not stand without funding from its people. Taxes are also used to create societal order. It is used to protect its citizens. Taxes are used to pay for the salaries of the police and armies. A farmer will not plant his crops if he knows that it will be stolen in the morning, then economic productivity would be impossible. In our current system, the top tax bracket are those earning at least P500,000 or those earning at least P41,667. Those earning P41,667 per month pays the same taxes as to those earning P1,000,000. Everyone will agree that the situation is already inequitable. The tax bracket thus should be adjusted according to the salaries of the taxpayers. All of the respondents does not directly uses accounting services for the fact that it may be costly for the since they are in the middle class.

Value for your money, the government must make their taxpayers feel that they get value from the money (tax) that they pay. A customer who felt that he/she did not get the value for his money will not return to that restaurant, store or any other business establishment. The same goes with taxpayers they will avoid paying taxes if they feel that it will only be corrupted by public officials. The computation for the most efficient tax rate would be very difficult since it entails factors such as inflation, purchasing power, income, consistency with economic direction and a lot more, which are varying from a day-to-day or weekly basis. If the tax rate was set too low, administrative feasibility would be impossible and if the tax rate was set too high it would be consficatory which is unconstitutional and will lead to tax evasion.

VI. Conclusion

A good taxation system should provide an appropriate level of revenue on a timely basis, distribute the cost of taxation fairly, promote economic growth and efficiency, be easily administered and ensure accountability. People will avoid paying taxes if they feel that the taxes imposed are confiscatory in nature and this in turn reduces the tax base. The inequity of the tax system negates the command of the Constitution. The endless complains of the middle class towards the strict tax collection drive of the BIR may be lessened if they feel that there equity, or the rich is paying more taxes than them. The middle class should not be burdened more than the higher class. The BIR collected 1.2 trillion for 2012 however the government budget deficit still bloated from 197.8 billion in 2011 to P235 B.

The Philippines, with the current taxation system, is always on budget deficit. And these year after year deficits includes huge amount of money thus resulting to higher public debt that the taxpayers also pay, with interest. It is time to change on how the government tax its people. Lowering the tax rate will not necessarily mean that it will lessen the budget of the government. Lowering tax will increase the tax base of the government and it will increase the cash flow in the economy, let the people decide where to put their money. Whichever way they use it, it will be productive to the economy since they are spending, when someone is spending another one is profiting and through profits is where the government gets its taxes. Unlike if taxes are corrupted and stored into secret bank accounts.

VII. Recommendation

The recommends that more respondents be included in the study. The taxation system of the country needs a lot of reforms. The taxation system should be based on the taxpayer’s ability to pay and should not be confiscatory in nature. Lowering the tax rate and increasing the tax bracket ceiling will initially lower tax collection but will increase it by the next year or two because the tax base will enlarge.

Bibliography

Books
Abola, Victor, Villegas, Bernardo, (2001). Economics An Introduction. Pasig City, Philippines: Inkwell Publishing Company, Inc. Cuevas, R.C., Paraiso O.C., Larano, L.C., (2011). Macroeconomics. Malabon City: Mutya Publishing House, Inc. Mankiw G.N., (2013). Principles of Economics. Pasig City, Philippines: Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd (Philippine Branch). McCaCandless, G.T. (1991). Macroeconomics theory. New Jersey: Harper and Row.

Internet
Fiscal drag. (2014, April 16). Retrieved from Wikipedia.org. October 10,
2014. Fiscal Drag Definition | Investopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2014.


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