ALIENS TOLD TO REGISTER BY MARCH 1

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has given all registered aliens until March 1, 2018, to report to the agency and be accounted for as mandated by law.

The agency’s Annual Report 2018 will run from Jan. 1 to March 1 next year, during which all registered aliens should report in person to the BI at Intramuros, Manila, or its field offices.

The agency made the announcement in an advisory dated Dec. 13 posted on its website, www.immigration.gov.ph.

Under Republic Act No. 562 or the Alien Registration Act of 1950, registered aliens must personally report to the BI within the first 60 days of each year.

The annual report aims to verify if the visa holder is still alive and to allow them to correct their entries in the registration such as address, civil status or surnames for those who got married.

Registered aliens will be required to present their Alien Certificate of Registration and a confirmation number issued via the Annual Report 2018 online system.

The confirmation number is for aliens who failed to accomplish the Annual Report forms for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

In the 2017 annual report, a total of 106,036 foreigners presented themselves before the BI and its field offices in compliance with the required annual report.

Last year’s turnout was 11 percent higher than 2016’s 95,007 foreigners who complied with that year’s annual report.

The BI said parents or legal guardians of registered aliens 14 years old and below were given the duty of reporting for their minor’s charges before the BI.

Also exempt from personal appearance are those who are 65 years old and above, and those who are mentally or physically incapacitated.

An alien who returns to the Philippines with a reentry permit and who has not accomplished the annual report is also required to report within 30 days from the date of return to the country.

(c) Julie M. Aurelio
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What does the tax reform bill mean for me?

Updated 18:41 PM PHT Mon, December 18, 2017

 

Tax reform is about simplifying the tax code and lowering taxes on beneficial activities while reducing tax leakages, or loss of revenue, and raising taxes on harmful activities. Illustration by JL JAVIER

Editor’s note: Pierre Martin Reyes is a lawyer, a tax law professor at the Far Eastern University Institute of Law, and a consultant of the Office of the Senate President. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), the first package of the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program, is almost at its final station. With the ratification by the House and Senate of its final version last week, the bill now moves to the President for his signature. In the coming days, we can expect to hear plenty of analysis and comments from various perspectives as to how it impacts the Filipino people and the economy. To that, I offer my point of view.

Tax reform is about simplifying the tax code and lowering taxes on beneficial activities while reducing tax leakages, or loss of revenue, and raising taxes on harmful activities. Here’s what TRAIN does towards that end.

First, the reform increases the income tax exemption threshold and adjusts the income tax rates and tax brackets to ensure that Filipinos will have higher disposable income. It is a realization that the economy cannot grow and prosper by squeezing out taxes from the middle class. Instead, government must reinvigorate and expand the middle class as a bedrock of prosperity.

The tax reform program now exempts from income tax those with an annual taxable income of not over ₱250,000. Under the existing tax code, those earning over ₱500,000 a year are paying the same rate as high-income earners at ₱125,000 plus 32% of the excess over ₱500,000. Under TRAIN, those earning ₱400,000 but not over ₱800,000 would be paying income tax at ₱30,000 plus 25% of the excess over ₱400,000. Beginning 2023, the rates will automatically adjust to further lower the income tax rates. The exemption of 13 month pay and other bonuses has likewise been increased from ₱82,000 to ₱90,000.

Second, TRAIN introduces an optional flat tax or a single rate of income tax to give relief to self-employed and professionals (SEPs). The current tax code disfavors the self-employed and professionals. It’s about time that government gives them, particularly small business owners, a boost and put them at the heart of our economy.

Ultimately, it is about choice — giving taxpayers greater control over how their hard-earned money is saved or spent.

Previously, self-employed and professionals pay income tax at the same five to thirty-percent income tax schedule. With the new program, those with gross sales or gross receipts that do not exceed the new value-added tax (VAT) threshold of ₱3,000,000 have the option to use the new tax schedule or an eight percent flat tax on gross sales or receipts in excess of ₱250,000. If they choose the eight percent flat tax, they will be exempt from the three percent percentage tax. Regardless of their choice, SEPs whose gross sales or receipts do not exceed ₱500,000 will be exempt from the three percent  percentage tax.

Third, the new program lowers the estate tax rate to a single rate of six percent with a standard deduction of ₱5,000,000 and a family home exemption of up to ₱10,000,000. The estate tax can now be paid within a year and an installment within two years is provided. Furthermore, the heirs can now withdraw from the decedent’s bank accounts provided they pay a withholding tax. These reforms ensure that capital will not be locked in unsettled estates and enable heirs to leverage inherited property into wealth.

Fourth, the new tax program makes significant headway in reducing the tax leakages caused by the multitude of VAT exemptions in our tax system. Tax leakages pertain to revenue losses due to loopholes in a tax system such as special treatments to various industries in the form of VAT exemptions. While TRAIN repeals 54 of these exemptions, government should continue to reduce, or better yet, eliminate these special treatments to keep the VAT system as simple and efficient as it was intended to be. As a principle, only those VAT exemptions where the benefits to society exceed the costs of the foregone revenue should remain. Thus, TRAIN retains the exemption granted to senior citizens and persons with disabilities, increases the VAT exemption on monthly rentals from ₱10,000 to ₱15,000, and exempts the sale of drugs and medicines prescribed for diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension.

Finally, this new tax reform seeks to generate revenue by increasing or imposing tax on activities that cause undue harm. Excise taxes are taxes paid on the production, sale or consumption of particular commodities or activities. Other than generating revenue, these are used as tools to influence social behavior. Considering their environmental impact, TRAIN doubles the mining taxes and increases the coal tax from ₱10 per metric ton to ₱50-₱100-₱150 on a three-year period. This modest coal tax increase will have minimal impact on electricity prices but will be sufficient enough to encourage investments in renewable energy.

Tax reform is a continuous process, not a one-time event.

TRAIN also increases the excise taxes on petroleum products in staggered amounts in a three-year period and the excise tax on automobiles while providing incentives for hybrid and electric vehicles. This is to promote eco-friendly vehicles and to steer the shift from private to public transport in line with the government’s investments in transport infrastructure.

Under the new tax program, cigarettes and sweetened beverages will become more expensive. The excise taxes on cigarettes will gradually increase from the current ₱30 per pack to ₱32.50 next year and as high as ₱40 in 2020 while a new excise tax on sweetened beverages is introduced at either ₱6 or ₱12 per liter depending on the sweetener used. This is to promote a healthy lifestyle by discouraging smoking and the high consumption of sweetened beverages.

TRAIN also imposes an excise tax on invasive cosmetic procedures, surgeries and body enhancements which are directed solely to improve, alter or enhance one’s appearance and which do not meaningfully promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness or disease. While such procedures do not directly harm others, harm is caused because it sets standards of beauty that people must now spend on.

Various safeguards have been introduced on these impositions to mitigate any adverse impact, such as suspension of petroleum excise tax increases if price of oil reaches $80 per barrel, key exemptions for sweetened beverages, and other social measures.

Ultimately, it is about choice — giving taxpayers greater control over how their hard-earned money is saved or spent.

Could more have been done better? Certainly. The new tax reform program is not perfect, but it must be viewed in the context of a comprehensive tax reform plan. Tax reform is a continuous process, not a one-time event. As one proverb says, “To get through the hardest journey, we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.” It is the initial step towards a fairer, simpler, and more efficient tax system, and the next train is on its way.

(c) Pierre Martin Reyes

SBMA EYEING MAJOR TRADE DEALS WITH FIL-AM FIRMS

December 11, 2017

20171212

Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), along with SBMA Seaport Marketing Manager Ronnie Yambao (right), discusses expansion plans for the Port of Subic with Los Angeles Port Authority Trade Development Director Jim MacLellan during a recent Philippine trade mission to the United States.

Story and photo by Henry Empeño | Correspondent

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—At least two major investment projects from Filipino-American companies are now being targeted by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) following talks with the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce (FPACC) during a weeklong swing among key business centers in the United States last month.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, who joined the trade mission organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said the Subic agency aims to tap FPACC members to gain fresh key investment packages for the industrial and maritime sectors in the Subic Bay Freeport.

She said that an estimated $1-billion investment is being considered by an American-Chinese venture to develop a portion of the Redondo Peninsula in Subic for a possible industrial, maritime and mixed-use complex.

The SBMA had recently revoked a $798-million solar and industrial-estate project that one company had proposed at Redondo due to the reported failure by the proponent to meet financial requirements, but the SBMA said it is open to new proposals.

Aside from this, Eisma said another FPACC member based in California is also planning a $20-million investment for a waste-to-energy project and related renewable-energy projects in the Subic Bay Freeport.

The FPACC, which has 42 chapters in the US and around 5,000 member-companies, bridges United States-Philippine trade and commerce, and promotes goodwill and mutually beneficial projects between the two countries.

Eisma was present when the FPACC renewed its memorandum of understanding with the PCCI on November  11 in a ceremony in Scottsdale, Arizona.

During the trade mission, Eisma signed an agreement with the Virginia Port Authority and worked out a similar agreement with the Los Angeles Port Authority, for the sharing of expertise in port development and the promotion of trade and commerce among the ports.

“It’s a very promising situation as far as the FPACC members are concerned, and we have at least two major investment prospects and two port agreements as a result of the trip,” Eisma said.

“We are looking forward to more engagement with these interested parties so that we can finally clinch a business deal with them,” she added.

In the same trade mission, Eisma also discussed some projects with Google for a seminar on robotics and artificial intelligence in Subic next year.

She said two technical supervisors from the Internet search giant will visit the Subic Freeport in June 2018 to teach students in and around the Subic community as part of the firm’s corporate social responsibility  program.

Eisma said this will be a significant development, as the SBMA plans to eventually develop in Subic a center of excellence in this field.

The SBMA official also gave interviews to two local media outfits—one based in Chicago on November 11, and another in Arizona on November  12 during the PCCI- FPACC event—on the success of the Subic Bay Freeport, which recently observed its 25th founding anniversary late last month.

In Chicago Eisma was chosen by a publication as finalist in the “Chicago Filipino-Asian American Hall of Fame Award in Government.”

(c) Henry Empeño

SBMA VOWS FULL SUPPORT FOR AYTAS’ BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION

December 5, 2017

20171206

In Photo: Wilma T. Eisma, chairman and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, expresses affection to elderly members of the Magbukun Ayta tribe during the launch of the Indigenous Communities Conservation Area in Morong, Bataan, last Saturday.

Story and photo by Henry Empeño | Correspondent

MORONG, Bataan—Ayta tribesmen in the remote upland communities of Morong town will receive full support from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in a conservation project designed to protect and preserve their indigenous environment and culture.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma gave this assurance during the launch last Saturday of the Indigenous Communities Conservation Area (ICCA) project here under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The project, which seeks to preserve spaces that are de facto governed by indigenous peoples or local communities and to promote the conservation of biological and cultural diversity, places the Magbukun Ayta tribe at the forefront of conservation efforts, since they live in the conservation site, which forms a part of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

The project will be implemented with the support of the local government unit of Morong and the Philippine Association for Intercultural Development, but the SBMA said it will provide support like it did for the Ambala Ayta tribe also located at the Hermosa, Bataan, side of the free port.

“We will be giving our all-out support to this endeavor, not only because the project will be implemented within the Freeport Zone but also because we at the SBMA consider environmental protection our fundamental advocacy,” Eisma said at the sidelines of the ceremony.

The SBMA official recalled the Subic agency has initiated the social-fencing concept at the free port to make residents of upland areas in the zone be part of the overall strategy to preserve Subic’s natural environment.

She noted the SBMA has been so successful in its development program with the Subic Ayta tribesmen that it was recognized recently as the best in social-responsibility initiative.

“What we have successfully done for the Pastolan Ayta tribe, we also hope to do with the Magbukun folk,” she said.

Under the ICCA program, residents living within or nearby the conservation area will serve as protectors of the environment, while the local government unit will take the lead in implementing conservation and protection activities.

The ICCA concept provides for the classification of the Magbukun territory as a sacred area or ritual ground for the indigenous community and may include forests, mountains, shorelines, wetlands, fishing areas and other bodies of water that the tribesmen use or inhabit.

The indigenous conservation areas under the UNDP concept may be situated in remote ecosystems with minimum human influence, or may encompass areas of various regulations and magnitudes within regions strongly affected or modified by human occupation.

The ICCA program is expected to result in the continuation, revival or modification of traditional practices, or even new initiatives for the protection and restoration of natural resources and cultural values in the face of new threats or opportunities.

https://businessmirror.com.ph/sbma-vows-full-support-for-aytas-biodiversity-conservation/

(c) Henry Empeño