PJ Garcia wants ‘burdensome’ international travel tax abolished

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Cebu third district Representative Pablo John Garcia

CEBU CITY, Phiilippines —Cebu third district Representative Pablo John Garcia has proposed a bill that would abolish the collection of travel taxes for those traveling to international destinations.

Garcia filed House Bill 3874 saying that the current practice of collecting travel tax for those traveling abroad curtails an individual’s basic right to go to places.

Under Section 6 Article 3 of the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution, an individual has the right to choose one’s home and to travel inside and outside the country within the limits of the law.

In his explanatory note in HB 3874, which was filed last August 4, 2019, Garcia said that “taxing foreign travel is unreasonably burdensome on citizens and residents since so many other components are already being taxed.”

“The income from which they obtained funds to purchase airline tickets would already have been subject to income tax. The sale of the airline ticket is already subject to taxes which are passed on to the passenger. Furthermore, the passenger is made to pay terminal fees during every trip,” Garcia said.

Garcia added that travelling appears to be the “most overtaxed and overburdened” right of Filipinos.

A passenger travelling abroad in business and economy class currently pays P1,620 of travel tax to the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) while first-class passengers pay P2,700 each.

The collection of travel taxes is pursuant to Republic Act No. 1478 which created the Board of Travel and Tourist Industry. It was enacted in 1956.

Garcia said the policy does not fit the current times since during its enactment 63 years ago, the Philippines was still governed by the 1935 Constitution wherein the right to travel was not expressly provided and when travel was considered a luxury for the rich.

Garcia said with current seat sales in budget airlines that sometimes even drop to “piso fares,” the travel tax even exceeds the cost of the tickets themselves.

Garcia also noted that in 2002, the Philippines inked the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Tourism Agreement where member-states committed to repeal travel taxes for their citizens traveling within the ASEAN territories. /bmjo

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