Biz battles increase in withholding taxes

Industryites claim unpredictable income

MANILA — Showbiz types from four Filipino entertainment orgs have linked arms to fight a doubling of the withholding tax mandated by the Department of Finance on incomes of those in the entertainment industry.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will slap a 20% withholding tax on entertainment people starting Sept. 1. The BIR says the change from 10% is not a new tax, but is intended to reduce the lump sum professionals pay during the final tax payment season, in April.

Uncertain income

Those in the biz disagree, noting that many of their members have incomes that are unpredictable, since they are paid per project and can be idle for months. Moreover, industryites claim that more than 90% of the total entertainment workforce is not earning decent wages, and that a doubling in the upfront tax is crushing.

The orgs also question the timing of the action and point to declining profits among film and show producers plus the near-complete dominance of foreign films over local productions at the B.O.

And they use the example of levies such as the amusement tax, value-added tax and a flood tax, each added to every ticket sold, to show the burdens the government is already placing on the industry.

“Instead of subsidizing the film industry — which is done in most other countries — our government has done nothing for the entertainment business except to saddle it with so many taxes!” exclaimed showbiz columnist Butch Francisco of the Philippine Star in his column.

The 20% withholding tax applies to professional, promotional and talent fees of professionals such as actors, singers, emcees, athletes and directors of movies, stage, radio, television and musical productions.

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