City Council backs taxi operators-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
CITY councilors of Baguio unanimously supported the stand of taxi operators and drivers to oppose the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) order to raise their taxes this year.
Samahan ng mga Taxi Operator sa Cordillera president Jun Panayo said their group, in a position letter addressed to the City Council, is asking for the support of councilors for the BIR to defer or suspend the implementation of the increase in monthly percentage taxes.
Transport leader Perfecto Itliong backed Panayo in calling for the BIR to hold the implementation of the new rates which is a 100-percent increase for taxi drivers compared to other forms of public utilities such as jeepneys, minibus, school service and garage vehicles.
The group trooped last Monday to the City Council to air their grievances on what they call as BIR “unjustly collecting an additional payment of an adjusted monthly percentage tax on taxi operators which has doubled from P275 to P550 per month for 2013.”
The group claimed the P550 per month tax is “contrary to law, unlawful, unjust and confiscatory” as they sought councilors to intervene and to any or all necessary action on their plight.
Operators said there is no Memorandum Circular or Administrative Order issued by the BIR Central Office relative to the imposition of a P550 per month payment of Monthly Percentage Taxes nationwide including Baguio City.
They said they are in agreement to an increase of only P330 per month in Monthly Percentage Taxes or a P55 increase as a more equitable and suitable scheme of percentage taxation adaptable to the Baguio taxi industry which operates on a boundary system.
“Despite verbal requests made to employees of BIR-CAR that we be furnished a copy, we were informed that they have no copy of any Circular of Order related to this matter,” Panayo said.
What was furnished by BIR employees, according to operators, is a photocopy of an unsigned, undated advisory allegedly issued by its revenue district officer Fely Simon.
They claimed that if the implementation is covered by Administrative Order or Memorandum Circular, it should have been published in the Official Gazette or any newspaper of general circulation which they said is a violation of due process of the law.
The group said that upon scrutiny of the advisory, a huge discrepancy on taxi operators as compared to other common carriers like garage, public utility jeepneys, minibuses, and school services.
For garage vehicles and school services, for instance, they were only increased from P209 in the old rate to P230 in the new rate while minibuses are charged from the previous P385 to P424 monthly percentage tax.
The same goes to jeepney operators who are paying monthly percentage tax from P165 which based on the advisory will be increased to P182.
But taxi operators decried the more than 100 percent increase from P275 to P550 per month making them the highest paying among public transport common carriers.
Information gathered by the group also showed the BIR Revenue District Office in La Trinidad is still imposing the old rate of P160 per month in Monthly Percentage Taxes and not implementing the new rates.
While we understand that the BIR is mandated by law to collect taxes, the group stressed, this should be within parameters set by the law, which means increases should not be drastic and see to it that the local taxi industry will survive.
“With the implementation of the adjusted rate in the monthly percentage taxes threatening to hit us even harder, we fear we will not survive,” as operators decried majority of them are single operators with only one taxi unit.
The group said they bear the brunt of increases of prices in spare parts, maintenance, professional services and motor vehicles as well as more expensive price of fuel compare to the lowlands that, without the commensurate increase in fare rates, would kill the local taxi industry.
They added the advisory is also in violation of equal protection clause in the Constitution as it is unfair claiming this increase in taxes has not been implemented in Metro Manila.
Operators added that while they are exempted from the Value Added Tax, they are not exempt from it as it is being passed on to them through the fuel they pay daily as well as on spare parts and other services.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 20, 2013.