WHILE President Aquino wants to solve the government’s burgeoning budget deficit, his administration’s proposal to tax even those in the informal or “underground economy” –– like sari-sari store owners –– is just too much to bear, especially for the ordinary Juan de la Cruz.

To Aquino’s credit, his aggressive steps to improve tax collection has led to the prosecution of a pawnshop owner who allegedly got away with almost P20 million in taxes for his luxury vehicles. The remaining days of tax evaders are said to be numbered.

This is all amid poor tax collection, which has widened the budget deficit for the first six months to P196.7 billion, surpassing the estimate of P178.5 billion for the period.

But some of the measures being proposed will surely incur the ire of many Filipinos struggling to make ends meet.

Bureau of Internal Revenue chief Kim Henares said a vendor selling goods worth P25 needs to issue a receipt, citing the tax code.

This means that even a vendor who had started a business with capital of as low as P2,000 –– money probably borrowed from his relative or neighbor –– must issue a receipt once you buy a bag of your favorite chips and a bottle of soda.

This means that even the smallest entrepreneur who just started a business on a small table outside her house has to get a business permit and endure the tedious ordeal of following up red-tape laden city hall paperwork to “legalize” her trade and well, start issuing receipts.

While the government may argue the proposal is legal, Aquino or Henares should think of other measures that could shore up the government’s coffers without the poor bearing the burden.

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Taxing vendors seems to be a desperate move of the government which has yet to collect unpaid taxes worth P1.2 billion from Makati, now headed by Mayor Junjun Binay, son of Vice President and former Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay.

The government should first settle this kind of taxation irregularities before cracking the whip on ordinary people. Aquino should work for faster decisions on tax evasion cases of people in the entertainment industry that have been languishing before prosecutors and the Court of Tax Appeals.

Aquino should start proving that he is capable of prosecuting all tax evaders, even his closest allies, campaign donors, and staunch supporters, not just small fish like the construction firm Henares recently charged before state prosecutors.
In his State of the Nation Address, he said: “Pwede na tayong mangarap.” I wonder if vendors and small businessmen would be able to sleep at all.

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