2600% Tax Hike on Transport Operators Shortsighted, Unconscionable

Shortsighted and unconscionable.

This was how Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson assailed Saturday a plan by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to impose a whopping 2,600-percent tax hike on operators of buses, passenger jeeps and taxis to make up for its tax collection shortfall. 

“It is such a huge increase for transport operators. While I agree the 1978 base tax is outdated, the increases should have been gradual, and should have been part of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program. Such a huge increase is not only shortsighted, it is also unconscionable,” Lacson said.

He lamented that a 2,600-percent common carriers tax hike is no light matter for transport operators, who he said have to cope with rising costs of fuel and spare parts. With tension in Middle East escalating, he warned, the high prices of oil will ultimately be passed on to consumers.

Worse, he said the planned tax hike betrays a lack of vision and planning not only by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) but by Malacañang itself.

“Mrs. Arroyo has been president for almost seven years. Is she saying she does not have forward planning? Why beat the taxes out of poor jeepney, taxi and bus operators who are already reeling from the high prices of fuel and spare parts?” he said.

Lacson said he will ask the Senate committee on ways and means, and the oversight committee on tax reform, to look into the matter.

Earlier, the BIR said the increase in the common carriers tax, which is based on a percentage of gross revenues, similar to the value-added tax, was long overdue as taxes paid by operators of public utility vehicles were still based on 1978 prices.

It said the huge increase was appropriate as it simply took into account inflation, or the general rise in prices, from 1978 to 2006. The BIR’s plan raised a howl among transport operators who said they are already being “taxed to death.”