MANILA – The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading a measure extending the period of the estate tax amnesty amid the continuing threat posed by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

The chamber approved through voice voting House Bill 7068, which seeks to extend the availment period of the estate tax amnesty from two years to four years by amending Republic Act 11213 or the Tax Amnesty Act of 2019.

House Ways and Means Committee chair Joey Salceda, the sponsor of the bill, said the estate tax amnesty allows the transfer of long unsettled estates so these can be productive.

“The original deadline of availment and payment on April 23, 2020 has since been extended four times, with the new deadline set until December 31, 2020, however, only 23,911 persons have availed of the amnesty, earning only PHP1.362 billion out of the potential PHP6 billion-plus. Thus, it is apt that we extend it through legislation,” Salceda said.

The authors of the bill are Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, and Deputy Majority Leader Wilter Wee Palma II.

They said the measure will provide economic relief for Filipinos at this time of crisis, noting that the pandemic led to unemployment, bankruptcies, and stalled economic activities.

“The people lost a precious period of time and possible sources of income in order to avail of this tax amnesty program of the government. This drawback may take some time to recover, and while the Covid-19 pandemic still persists, people will have extreme difficulty in paying their taxes, much more in settling their estate tax dues even with this tax amnesty program. Hence, this bill proposes to extend the availment period of the estate tax amnesty,” they said in the bill’s explanatory note.

The lawmakers said the proposed amendment will enable those who want to take advantage of the amnesty program to have ample time to recoup their resources and get back on their feet so they can still apply and pay their estate tax dues.

RA 11213 was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 14, 2019.

Under the law, the government provides the taxpayers a one-time opportunity to settle estate tax obligations through an estate tax amnesty program that gives reasonable tax relief to estates with outstanding estate tax liabilities.

Taxpayers who avail of the estate tax amnesty enjoy immunity from the payment of estate taxes, civil, criminal, and administrative cases and penalties.

The estate tax amnesty covers the estate of decedents who died on or before December 31, 2017, with or without assessments duly issued, whose estate taxes have remained unpaid or have accrued as of December 31, 2017.

Under the law, the executor or administrator of the estate, or if there is executor or administrator appointed, the legal heirs, transferees, or beneficiaries, who wish to avail of the estate tax amnesty shall do so within two years from the effectivity of the implementing rules and regulations of RA 11213. (PNA)