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Remind BIR to enforce the law requiring free legal aid

The Republic Act (RA) No. 9999, also known as the Free Legal Assistance Act of 2010, which allows attorneys to claim tax deductions for services rendered to low-income clients, must be put into effect, according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

In a letter to BIR Commissioner Lilia Guillermo on Monday, Senator Lito Lapid requested that the bureau give RA 9999, which was passed under the previous administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a top priority.

However, although being passed into law 12 years ago, it has not yet been put into effect, principally because the BIR has not yet published the required IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations). According to the law, it had to be distributed 90 days after it became effective, according to a statement from Lapid.

RA 9999 aims to encourage professionals to provide disadvantaged people with genuine free legal services in order to lessen the workload of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).

Lapid continued, “It assures that every person who cannot afford legal representation is given the services of a competent and independent counsel, preferably of his own choice.

The minimum 60-hour statutory legal aid services provided to destitute litigants are not considered to be true free legal services, according to the legislation.

Lawyers and firms may get certification from the Supreme Court (SC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and PAO in order to take advantage of the tax deductions.

The certification declares that the free legal services to be supplied fall under the SC’s definition of legal services and that the DOJ and PAO are unable to supply the private counsel services.

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