Line Of Sight

Are online purchases threats to perks for seniors, PWDs?

Meg Punay
By:
Meg Punay
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Some of us, if not most, have family members who are senior citizens or persons with disabilities (PWDs). As physical restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed companies to innovate from face-to-face to online transactions, the perks given to senior citizens and PWDs have also been inadvertently pushed aside.

This puts senior citizens and PWDs at a disadvantage, resulting to reluctance in opting to purchase online, caused by the possibility of foregoing their tax benefits.

According to Republic Act No. 10754, “An Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons With Disability (PWD)”, senior citizens and PWDs are entitled to a 20% discount and VAT exemption on specific purchases of goods and services such as medicines, domestic transportation (i.e., land, air, and sea), food in restaurants, accommodation in hotels, and admission to recreational places such as cinema houses and concert halls. They are also entitled to another 5% discount on purchase of necessities and prime commodities. These necessities include rice, corn, bread, meat, eggs, milk, vegetables, fruits, sugar, salt, soap, candles, liquified petroleum gas, and kerosene. Prime commodities include flour, onions, vinegar, soy sauce, fertilizers, pesticides, poultry feeds, school supplies, construction materials, batteries, and light bulbs. 

Technically, senior citizens refer to any Filipino citizen who is a resident of the Philippines and is sixty (60) years old or above, although they also include dual citizens, provided they prove their citizenship and have at least six (6) months residency in the Philippines. PWDs include those persons suffering from restriction of different abilities, as a result of mental, physical, or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. These also include Persons with Rare Diseases under RA No. 10747 and Cancer Patients as provided by RA No. 11215. 

To avail of these benefits, a senior citizen must present his/her Senior Citizen ID or any government-issued ID that has his/her birth date indicated, and a Person with Disability must present his PWD ID in every purchase where these discounts can be availed. In case a purchaser is both a senior citizen and a PWD, he/she shall only be allowed to avail of the discount as either a senior citizen or a PWD, and he/she cannot claim double the discount.

To recall, Joint Memorandum Circular No. 01, Series of 2022, was issued last May 2022 to provide guidelines on these benefits in circumstances where the purchases are done online and through phone call and text messages. In this joint memorandum issued by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Social Welfare and Development, Naval Sea Systems Command, National Council on Disability Affairs, Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the guidelines are provided as follows:

For purchases through the internet or an online platform:

  1. Upon placing the order, the senior citizen or the PWD must declare to the online platform/merchant that he is a senior citizen and/or a PWD. 
  2. Upon confirmation of the orders, he/she must attach a scanned copy or image of his/her senior citizen or PWD ID. The platform/merchant shall apply the appropriate discount on the purchases made.
  3. Upon delivery of the goods or performance of the service, he/she must present his/her senior citizen or PWD ID. In case of failure to present his/her ID, the platform/merchant may instead charge him/her the full amount.

For purchases through telephone call, mobile phone call, or SMS:

  1. Upon placing the order, the senior citizen or the PWD must provide his/her name, date of birth, and the ID number of his/her senior citizen or PWD ID.
  2. Upon confirmation of the orders, the business establishment is responsible for asking the customer if he/she is a senior citizen and/or a PWD. It shall then apply the appropriate discount on the purchases made.
  3. Upon delivery of the goods or performance of the service, the senior citizen or the PWD must present his/her senior citizen or PWD ID. In case of failure to present his/her ID, the platform/merchant may instead charge him/her the full amount.

The DTI encourages senior citizens and PWDs to utilize their discounts on purchases made through the internet and through phone, especially those purchases subject to 5% discount such as necessities and prime commodities, which are usually done regularly and more frequently than those subject to 20% discount and VAT exemption.

This 5% discount covers only PHP 1,300.00 worth of necessities and prime commodities purchased per week, per senior citizen or PWD. Any unused amount cannot be carried over. To avail of this discount, the purchase must be for the personal and exclusive consumption of the senior citizen or the PWD and must be spent on at least four (4) kinds of items of basic necessities and prime commodities.

The rules and guidelines have been set in place. The critical question lies on how these are being implemented by the different online stores and platforms. It seems not all have embraced incorporating the tax perks of senior citizens and PWDs in their systems. Will the DTI and the rest of the government agencies that took part of the joint memorandum take the next step in ensuring proper compliance? Will there be penalties imposed to those who fail to comply? Will online transactions be forever marred with skepticism in the perspective of  senior citizens and PWDs?

After all, these benefits and privileges are meant to be utilized by senior citizens and PWDs all year round, and not only during the pandemic.

 

As published in Mindanao Times, dated 28 September 2022

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