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Tolentino, Dela Rosa propose ‘non-taxable’ electricity allowance for ‘work from home’ employees

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Administration Senators Francis Tolentino and Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa have proposed additional non-taxable incentives for telecommuting employees in the private sector amid the “new normal” working scheme due by the coronavirus pandemic.

The two neophyte senators have filed Senate Bill No. 1684 or the Expanded Telecommuting Act which seeks to provide a mandatory “non-taxable telecommuting allowance of at least P1,000 for every month served under such agreement” for telecommuting or work from home employees.

The administration lawmakers stressed that not a single amount in their proposed legislation should be construed to eliminate or supplements, allowances, or other employee existing benefits if ever the bill becomes a law.

In their explanatory note, they said “work from home tends to increase utility consumption, particularly electricity.”

“Residential energy use has risen due to more people staying at home. Some workers even purchase their own equipment at home. These additional expenses are out of employee’s own pockets and for the benefit of employer’s business,” SB 1684’s explanatory note read.

“Assistance must be provided to the employees in order to cushion the impact of this new normal and make this practice sustainable.”

They added the measure also seeks to expand its coverage to include public or government employees to also benefit with P1,000 non-taxable allowance for additional cost of utilities from telecommuting.

“The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced force Filipinos to embrace the concepts of telecommuting and working from home,” the senators explained.

In a radio interview last Sunday, Tolentino explained that employers can handle the proposed additional allowance for their employees considering that supposed workplace have less or no electricity consumption at all since the work from home scheme has been implemented.

“Kakayanin kasi di lang naman ganun ang nauubos nya sa electric bills nya. Di ba may opisina siya, diyan… hindi lang naman siguro P1,000 persos ang bayad. At yun naman ay deductible bilang business expense na mababawas sa buwis na babayaran ng kumpanya,” said Tolentino.

“Ang end result nito, ang empleyado may karagdagang pera sa bulsa na gagamitin din sa ekonomiya at makakadagdag din sa pagbayad ng kaniyang kuryente kesa naman maputulan siya ng kuryente. Pag naputulan siya ng kuryente, wala siyang output na irereport sa kumpanya, nalugi din ang kumpanya, walang nagrereport, walang productivity. Lahat ito makikinabang,” he added.

Aside from telecommuting, Tolentino stressed that electric bills of power consumers are expected to balloon due to the alternative learning program which will be used by both basic and tertiary education students for the upcoming opening of school year since “face to face” classes are still not advisable due to the rising number of coronavirus infections in the country.

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