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Film industry bats for reduced taxes in Congress

THE film industry told Congress it is too heavily taxed, and added that reducing the tax burden would encourage filmmakers to produce more movies of higher quality.

At a hearing of the House committee on creative industry and performing arts, producer Josabeth V. Alonso proposed a reduction in the amusement tax on movies to 5% from 10% as well as tax holidays for the industry.

Ms. Alonso also cited a 2010 decision by the Supreme Court (SC), which found that entities charged an amusement tax are not obliged to pay value-added tax.

According to Ms. Alonso, film producers pay both.

She said that incorporating the ruling into an amendment to the tax code would clarify enforcement and “be a big help to the producers because that would reduce the breakeven target by 12%.”

In 2019 the SC ultimately decided in an en banc resolution to reject the Film Development Council of the Philippines’ motion to grant films amusement tax privileges, saying this violated “the principle of local fiscal autonomy,” with the denial of amusement taxes to local government units (LGUs) could be detrimental to LGUs. 

Dennis N. Marasigan, artistic director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, told the panel, “If we are able to take out a lot of the taxation that filmmakers and producers (are subject to), then that would encourage producers to produce more quality films rather than to cater to the (mass market).”

In her presentation, Ms. Alonso noted that a film with P100 million in box office revenue and production costs of P50 million will generate net revenue of P37.62 million after 10% amusement tax, 12% value-added tax, and a 5% distribution fee, resulting in a P12.38 million net loss.

“Just because a film grosses a hundred million and above, doesn’t necessarily equate to profit,” Ms. Alonso said.

Ms. Alonso noted that none of the locally-produced films released in 2022 hit P10 million in gross sales. She estimated that films need to gross roughly 270% of production cost to break even.

Currently, only the city governments of Las Piñas and Quezon City do not charge amusement taxes, while Pasay reduced its rate to 5%. Other LGUs still collect a 10% amusement tax. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz