MANILA - Sen. Francis Tolentino on Monday said that additional electricity expenses incurred by employees from working at home because of the COVID-19 quarantine should be deducted from their tax dues.
Tolentino noted that employers have been saving a lot after workers were asked to work at home to avoid possible exposure to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
"Hindi na sila nagtatrabaho doon sa opisina nila, hindi kumo-konsumo ng aircon at kuryente. Dahil nagtatrabaho sila sa bahay, nadagdagan ang kanilang gastusin sa kuryente," Tolentino told the Senate Committee on Energy.
(They are no longer working there, they are not consuming electricity, aircon. Because they have been working from home, their personal electricity consumption has increased.)
"Because he (worker) was able to produce something for the government office or for a private employer, he is entitled to some tax relief," he said.
The Manila Electric Co (Meralco) said that electricity consumption in households increased by 30 percent during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, when people were told to stay at home to prevent the virus spread.
"Dahil maiinit ang panahon, nakakadagdag din po ito... Ang electric fan, aircon naka-on... Ang mga ref natin mas madalas binubuksan kaya nakakadagdag 'yun," Meralco President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Espinosa told the panel.
(The warmer temperature adds to this... Electric fans and air-conditioners are frequently turned on... Refrigerators are frequently opened and that adds to the electricity bill.)
Tolentino said he and Senate Energy Committee chair Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian will file a bill to amend the National Internal Revenue Code to insert the tax deduction for home-based workers.
Most workers have been doing their jobs at home since March after President Rodrigo Duterte placed Luzon - the Philippines' most populous island - under lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.