SUAGR cooperatives in Negros Occidental have reiterated their call on the full implementation of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) which the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) versioned last year.

Fr. Armando Onion, spokesperson of the Various Exempted Sugar Cooperatives (VESC) and chair of Ma-ao Parish Multi-Purpose Cooperative Inc. (MPMPC), said the BIR and CDA jointly made the implementing rules and guidelines regulating revenue for the cooperatives in the country.

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Last January 25, Onion said he attended the Joint Oversight Committee hearing both in Congress and the Senate, together with the stakeholders of the different cooperatives in the country, the BIR and CDA.

Onion however noted that there were some provisions which they have not seen “of its deeper implications” of the implementing guidelines, and that the sugar cooperatives are still studying the advantage of it.

Onion cited that despite series of meetings and consultations conducted in different regions in the country which the Oversight Committee based their guidelines yet the cooperatives could not clearly see the implication or impact of the IRR.

“As far as our struggle for tax exemption of the sugar cooperatives in Negros Occidental, and what would be the benefits that the cooperatives could have in the very long process for making the implementing revenue regulations,” Onion said, adding that they will hold a meeting to investigate and make a final draft on the IRR. But IRR is slated to be out next month when the Senator Miguel Zubiri who himself was the chair of the Oversight Committee announced it last week.

Onion maintained that the sugar cooperatives should be exempted from paying taxes which he noted is a sensitive issue. He said that the coops’ non-paying of taxes was because they question the BIR’s legality of collecting them “because the law had exempted the cooperatives from paying such.”

But still the cooperatives pay their taxes in protest, added Onion.

“So, the problem now is what would be the amicable settlement of the cooperatives to the BIR, which they presented 20 percent of a total assessment of the cooperatives that should be paid,” he added.

He said the Congress still finding solutions for the benefits of the cooperatives, adding that the final provisions are not yet finished, especially in the implementation of Republic Act A 9520 or the tax exemption on the cooperatives.

Onion opined further that cooperatives, under the law, are exempted from paying taxes should their money does not exceed P10 million.

“Automatically cooperatives will be exempted,” said Onion.

He cited further that tax exemption of the electric cooperatives was reduced to 20-30 centavos per kilowatt, noting that it’s a big advantage to the consumers, if the cooperatives have been given a tax exemption of such. (Merlinda A. Pedrosa)