Sunday, February 20, 2011

15% income tax to expats, when applicable?

Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 41 – 2009 dated July 23, 2009 (RMC 41-2009) was issued to clarify the meaning of “Managerial and Technical Positions” under Section 25(C) of the Tax Code, as amended. This RMC sets out the qualifications and requirements in order that an alien employee (or Filipino employees) of a Regional Headquarters (RHQ) or Regional Operating Headquarters (ROHQ) of a multinational corporation shall be eligible for the 15% income tax rate on its gross compensation income. Hereunder is the summary of the RMC.

Compared to the normal tax rate of 5-32% bracket 5-32%, if a resident alien or non-resident alien engaged in trade or business, or 25%, if a non-resident alien not engaged in trade or business, the 15% rate is a good break because of a material rate gap on rates of income tax on compensation of approximately 17% (32%-15%), and 10% (25%-15%), respectively. Thus, the BIR saw the need to clarify the bounds of the term “Managerial and Technical Positions” to avoid abuse and misapplication of the above rule to minimize taxes, if not escape or evade.

Under the Labor Code, employment of non-resident aliens commonly referred to as “expatriate employees”, is limited to positions which are managerial, confidential, or highly technical in nature, or where there are no Filipinos who are competent, able and willing to perform the services for which aliens are desired. To be considered managerial employee, it must possess authority to act in the interest of its employer requiring the use of independent judgment and not merely routinary or clerical in nature. The case of Villuga vs. NLRC, 225 SCRA 537 provides the following elements to be considered managerial employee:

a. primary duty consist of performance o work directly related to management policies;
b. customarily and regularly exercise discretion and independent judgment;
c. regularly and directly assist in the management of the establishment;
d. does not devote 20% of his time to work other than those prescribed above.

The employees are not managerial employees if they only execute approved and established policies, leaving little or no discretion at all whether to implement said policies or not. On the other hand, RMC did not elaborate very well on “technical position” other than saying that it is limited to positions which are highly technical in nature or where there are no Filipinos who are competent, able and willing to perform the services for which aliens are desired.

By implication, all other BIR rulings issued inconsistent with the RMC are revoked accordingly. As a matter of fact, BIR Ruling No. DA-061-04 is revoked by the RMC. Thus, it is suggested that a review of existing employee structure and job descriptions in relation to their tax treatments is hereby recommended to ensure that the same is in compliance with the RMC.

Suggested readings:
a. Villuga vs. NLRC, 225 SCRA 537
b. Republic Act No. 8756, amending E.O. No. 226

"Taxes affect lives, care for taxes and save lives"


Anonymous said...

Hi, 1701 form changed and is effective for 2011 (2012 filing). If the employee is deriving income from business (non-vat) and final tax from ROHQ employer, in 1701 form, how will the compensation income subject to final tax and business income combined? Will the section VI be required to be filled out?

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