By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 7, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means has approved tax incentives for first-time homebuyers to make homeownership easier and more affordable.
The panel, chaired by Marikina Rep. Romero Federico Quimbo, approved the proposed First-time Homebuyers Act upon the recommendation of the Committee on Housing and Urban Development and the Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Alfredo Benitez of Negros Occidental and Isidro Ungab of Davao City, respectively.
Rep. Arthur Yap of Bohol is the principal author of the proposed law.
The incentives are exemption from payment of transfer tax and a five-percent discount on the cost of a dwelling unit. The seller or developer who gives the discount can claim it as a tax credit for the year it was given.
Yap said his bill aims to enable the government “to achieve its sworn goal to alleviate the condition and welfare of a majority of the Filipino families, especially those who have the basic need for shelter.”
“With this measure, such goal can be partly achieved. It would make it easier and affordable, especially to low and middle income groups, to finally acquire the dream home they may call their own,” he said.
He said his proposed law, if enacted, would not only give first-time homebuyers incentives but would further fuel the construction boom, which would become the catalyst of economic growth and development.
“It would strengthen, promote and support the component activities of housing production and finance. Finally, it would increase private sector participation in the investment of their funds into housing finance, construction and development,” he added.
The measure refers to a “first-time homebuyer” as any person who, for the first time, purchases a house and lot or condominium unit or constructs a house on a land he/she owns and who intends to occupy the same as his/her principal place of residence.
The incentives may be availed of for the purchase of a housing package or the construction of a house falling under the category of low-cost housing and medium-cost housing as determined by the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
The first-time homebuyer would be provided the schedule of payment of installments until full payment of the purchase price.
The bill provides a fine of P5,000 to P50,000 or imprisonment of six months, or both at the discretion of the court, for any person who makes a false claim regarding first-time homeownership and the tax credit arising from it.