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Rizal Rep Nograles decries lack of implementing rules for Free Legal Assistance Act

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House justice committee vice chair Fidel Nograles (Rizal) has decried the lack of implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of a ten-year old law that grants lawyers tax deductions for providing free legal aid to poor clients.

Nograles, an assistant majority floor leader in the Lower House noted that the continued absence of the IRR for Republic Act No. 9999 or the Free Legal Assistance Act of 2010 since its passage meant the law had not been maximized.

According to Nograles, the IRR is necessary to operationalize Section 5 of the law in particular, which is the provision granting tax incentives to lawyers for going beyond the mandatory service required of them.

Section 5 of RA 9999 states that “a lawyer or professional partnerships rendering actual free legal services, as defined by the Supreme Court, shall be entitled to an allowable deduction from the gross income, the amount that could have been collected for the actual free legal services rendered or up to 10 percent of the gross income derived from the actual performance of the legal profession, whichever is lower.”

Nograles urged the Supreme Court (SC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to prioritize the IRR’s formulation.

He said that the SC was tasked with the legal requirements, while the BIR was supposed to come up with the necessary revenue regulations for the proper implementation of the law’s tax component.

Nograles trumpeted the law’s potential “to ensure that indigent clients have access to legal representation.”

The lawmaker also has two pending bills mean to ensure that marginalized sectors have greater access to justice in the country.

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