By Corina Oliquino

MANILA — Senators Francis Tolentino and Ronald Dela Rosa filed on July 13 Senate Bill 1684 which would amend RA 11165 or the Telecommuting Act.

The Bill seeks to compensate public and private sector employees performing tasks under an agreed work-from-home set-up of ₱1,000 telecommuting allowance every month, which will be deducted to firms’ taxable income.

“Working from home tends to increase utility consumption, particularly electricity. Some workers even purchase their own equipment for working at home. These additional expenses are out of the employee’s own pockets and for the benefit of the employer’s business,” according to the Bill.

It also does not prohibit employers or the collective bargaining agreement from providing terms more favorable than the said rate.

“Ibigay na lang ng employers ‘yon sa employee nila. At ‘yon naman ay puwedeng i-claim as business expense at deductible sa kanila kasi nakatipid sila.” Tolentino told Rappler.

Electricity allowance to work-from-home employees

According to Rappler, Sen. Tolentino in a media interview on July 7, said he will file a bill which would amend Republic Act 8524 or the National Internal Revenue Code to allow tax deductions on the gross income tax of employees under a work-from-home scheme.

Tolentino said the bill will “shift the burden from employees paying for electricity costs of their work-from-hope set-up.

“Ang itinaas na porsyento ng electric bill ay puwedeng ibawas sa doon sa bill ng empleyado at bigyan siya ng kauukulang tax deduction dahil di naman ‘nya kagustuhang magtrabaho sa bahay. Naging option lang because of COVID-19,” Tolentino said.

“Because he was able to produce something for the government office or for a private employer, he is entitled to some tax relief,” he added.

Tolentino said he will work with panel chair Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian to make the bill possible by asking him to be a co-author and review the proposed measure.

The Senator said he is considering three options to implement the deductions, including asking employees to attach a form in his or her income tax return indicating how much the deduction should be, asking employers to compute how much deductions should be given to employees at the end of the tax year and to give a fixed amount to employees every month to subsidize electricity expenses.

Tolentino first raised the idea on July 6 during a Senate energy hearing on complaints about bill shock, when the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) which services Metro Manila and nearby areas confirmed that electricity consumption by residential customers spiked by 30 percent during the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ in previous months.

He said electricity consumption would further increase when blended and distant learning classes open in August.