Lacson: Unitary tax system best for health sector under sin tax law

Health benefits and the government’s revenue generation should be the main considerations of the sin tax law.

On this note, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said the present Sin Tax Reform Act (RA 10351), which provides for a shift to a unitary instead of a two-tiered tax system for tobacco products, should be allowed to take its course.

“Whatever will benefit the health sector as well as the government’s revenue generation, I would support. Initially, I’d rather allow the present law to take its course, that is, to allow the automatic shift to (a unitary tax system), monitor and review the implications before taking any legislative intervention, but most importantly, prevent leakages in the sin tax collections,” Lacson said. 

He added the unitary tax system so far is proving to be responsive to increasing revenue; downshifting of consumption of cigarettes; and making tax administration simpler to combat tax evasion.

So far, Lacson noted the Sin Tax Reform Act, which went into effect in 2012, has been meeting its goals of bringing down cigarette and alcohol consumption; and raising revenues to finance the implementation of Universal Health Care programs and alternative livelihood for tobacco farmers.

He cited figures from the National Nutrition Survey showing that as of 2016, smoking prevalence among Filipinos declined from 31 percent in 2008 to 23 percent in 2015.

The law has also increased the national budget for health, more than doubling from P57 billion prior to the passage of the Sin Tax Law in 2012 to P123 billion in 2016, he added.

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