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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Solons seek tax deductions for parents of children with special needs
Writer: Rowena B. Bundang, MRS-PRIB
03 September 2011 09:31:36 AM

Lawmakers have filed a bill granting tax deductions to parents and legal guardians of children with special needs.

Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga) and her son Rep. Diosdado Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur) authored House Bill 5100, which aims to ease the financial burden of families who have children with special needs.

Arroyo said the bill will allow parents and legal guardians a tax deduction to help deal with the expenses incurred for therapy of their children.

Under the bill, a qualified taxpayer shall be entitled to a deduction of P50,000. Expenses that qualify for tax deduction shall include tuition for a private school, therapy, diagnostic evaluations, tutoring, transportation expenses and special instructional materials.

"Children with special needs far outweigh the challenges in comparison to dealing with regular and healthy children. Parents need to pay for expensive and specialized services such as occupation, physical and speech therapies to improve the quality of life of their children," Arroyo said.

Citing a study of the Special Education Division of the Department of Education, Arroyo said the cost for taking care of a child with special needs is at least double compared to those of regular children.

"A child with special needs is understood to be a child who is intellectually disabled, has hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments, serious emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism and traumatic brain injury," Arroyo explained.

In 2009, Arroyo said children with special needs who were enrolled in public elementary schools were those with learning disabilities.

"A total of 51, 296 children were assessed as learning disabled, while the number of mentally retarded or intellectually disabled children stood at 13,119 and those hearing impaired ranked third at 12, 039," Arroyo said.

Arroyo said for school years 2007 to 2008, the number of enrolled children with special needs in both public and private elementary schools was 92,429. This translates to a 27.6 percent increase from the 79,118 recorded in school years 2004 to 2005. Many children who have special needs no longer pursue secondary education or manage to stay in elementary schools for an extended period of time.

"In the provinces, children with special needs are not given proper attention since they are often grouped together rather than taught separately depending on each child's condition," Arroyo said.

"To make matters worse, the ideal 10 to 15 student-teacher ratio is not maintained, bringing the number of students up to 25 per teacher," Arroyo said.

Under the bill, those who are qualified as children with special needs are those legitimate, illegitimate or legally adopted children, chiefly dependent, and living with the taxpayer. This also covers children with special needs who are placed under the legal custody of an immediate family member or relative.