Comelec, BIR will track election donations together

TAX and election authorities will compare notes in the 2016 election to try to spot candidates who fail to report campaign contributions correctly, a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) official said.

Contributions will not be taxed and will instead be considered deductible expenses of contributors, said lawyer Neri Yu, chief of the legal division of BIR 13 (Cebu and Bohol).

If a candidate fails to report some contributions to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), but all his or her donors report their contributions to the BIR, the candidate could end up facing a disqualification case, Yu said.

Yu spoke during the 888 News Forum at Marco Polo Hotel yesterday.

In another election-related development, the Comelec en banc has allocated one more seat in the House of Representatives for Cebu Province, for the new seventh district.

Comelec Deputy Executive Director Bartolome Sinocruz Jr. informed Rep. Wilfredo Caminero (Cebu Province, second district) about the approved allocation, after the bill creating the new district was signed into law as Republic Act 10684 last Sept. 18.

The new district is composed of eight towns that used to be part of the second district.

“As an incumbent representative of the ‘mother’ second district, I remain committed to assist the new seventh district, particularly in this transition period,” Caminero said.

Statement

Aspiring public officials will have to file their certificates of candidacy next week.

Win or lose, they will have 30 days after the election to file their statement of contributions and expenditures with Comelec.

In yesterday’s forum, the BIR’s Yu explained that candidates who receive donations in excess of the threshold for campaign spending can keep the excess amount, but subject to 30 percent donor’s tax.

Yu added that while campaign contributions are not taxed, suppliers of campaign materials such as shirts, tarpaulin banners, mugs and glasses must observe the policy on withholding tax.

As to the creation of a new district in Cebu Province, Caminero said he hoped that the seventh district’s allocations will support projects like new roads and eco-tourism promotion.

He said in his message that Cebuano leaders realized almost seven years ago the need to reapportion the entire province, which at the time had 2.7 million constituents in six districts and was underrepresented.

“It should have at least 10 districts with an average of 270,000 constituents,” said Caminero.

Comelec’s approval will also increase the number of Cebu Provincial Board (PB) members from 12 to 14.

Caminero recalled that he filed House Bill 3149 on Oct. 16, 2013 and fellow representatives Gwendolyn Garcia, Benhur Salimbangon and Aileen Radaza readily joined in as co-authors.

The Lower House approved the bill last May 26, 2014 and transmitted it to the Senate two days later.

The first-term congressman also stated that then Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia had filed similar bills creating the new district during the 14th and 15th Congress.

Caminero thanked Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale and PB Member Peter John Calderon for their efforts in pushing for approval of the measure.

He also thanked the PB, all the senators especially Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III and Aquilino Pimentel III; and retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., who helped follow up on the bill in the Senate.

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