First round of tax changes won’t bite, but second may sting

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte late last year signed into law the first steps in a long-awaited tax reform program to raise funds to improve infrastructure, which analysts say will dampen consumer spending, but are unlikely to hurt the booming gambling industry. However, a second round of measures, expected later this month, may contain more of a sting and operators are watching the bill closely. Any policies that could affect spending power in the Philippines are significant, as the country has a strong mass market, dominated by local visitors. Known as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, the program re-invents the country’s 20-year tax regime. The government claims it will be a simpler and fairer system, designed to shift the tax burden from the lower 99 percent of the community to the wealthiest 1 percent. This is being rolled out in a series of packages across the year. The first package...

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