When reaching the graying years of 60, one of the first sources of excitement is acquiring a senior citizen card. For those ready and eager to retire, there is nothing sweeter than being able to purchase plane tickets, hotel accommodations, movie passes, and even meals at discounted prices. Of course, with every right comes rules to guide individuals and to protect restaurant owners.
Who can avail the senior citizen benefits
Republic Act No. 9994, Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (or the “Senior Citizen Law”) defines senior citizens as Filipino residents at least 60 years of age who are entitled to a 20 percent discount and an exemption from the 12 percent value-added tax (VAT) imposed on the sale of services from restaurants. For this purpose, the term “senior citizen benefits” shall refer to the 20 percent discount and the exemption from the 12 percent VAT granted to seniors.
How to avail
The senior citizen must be physically present and show any valid Philippine government-issued identification document (ID) reflecting their date of birth. Benefits can only be applied to the food or beverage personally consumed by the senior citizen, except for food marketed as children’s meals, pre-contracted party packages or bulk orders, and promotional discounts. In cases when restaurants offer promotional discounts, they may only choose to avail either the promotional discount or the senior citizen benefits.
To ensure that these benefits are applied only to the meal of the senior citizen, restaurants are required to issue separate receipts for the senior citizen and for their non-senior citizen companions.
Where to avail
The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Senior Citizen Law require only restaurants, including those in hotels and fastf ood chains, to offer these benefits. Restaurants in country clubs are not required, unless they operate as independent concessionaires.
How to compute
For dine-in services, senior citizen benefits should be applied to the separate meal with beverage of the senior citizen. However, for most Filipino families, senior citizens share meals with their family members. For sharing meals between family members or friends, the usual practice is to divide the cost of the shared meals by the number of those eating at the table and to apply senior citizen benefits only to the share of the senior citizen.
For take-out and delivery orders, senior citizen benefits should be applied to the combination of the most expensive single serving meal with beverage from the restaurant’s menu, regardless of what the senior citizen orders. What then are the recurring problems involving senior citizen benefits?
Restaurant owners share a common story of senior customers demanding that their benefits be applied to the entire bill, not just to their meal. Others explained that senior citizens would present fake IDs, foreign IDs, or no IDs yet demand for their benefits to be applied to their bill.
Some restaurant owners encountered senior individuals who would request that their benefits be applied to an entire cake they were ordering while threatening to prove that they could finish it in one sitting. It is also not an unusual practice for relatives of senior citizens to borrow their cards and use it to get a discount. There are instances when individuals lie about their age and birthdays just to avail of the discount.
These stories clearly show that senior citizen benefits are still a pressing and relevant concern for restaurateurs and food business owners. In hopes of lessening the difficulties surrounding senior citizen benefits, below are some guidelines for restaurant owners to know the extent and scope of senior citizens’ rights:
- Senior citizen benefits should only be applied to the food and beverage personally consumed by the senior citizen.
- The senior citizen should always be physically present and must present a valid Philippine government-issued ID.
- For dine-in services with sharing, the cost of the shared meals should be divided by the number of those eating and senior citizen benefits should be applied only to the share of the senior citizen.
- For takeout and delivery orders, the benefits should be applied to the combination of the most expensive single serving meal with beverage from the restaurant’s menu, regardless of what the senior citizen orders.
- A separate receipt should always be issued for the senior citizen.
Following such prescriptions, as mandated by the law, will protect not only the welfare of senior citizens but also the interests of one’s business. (Update: On July 25, President Duterte officially signed Republic Act 11350, which will create the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCS). This new commission will see to it that policies and regulations will protect the welfare of Filipino seniors).
Today, Filipinos aged 60 and up can enjoy perks such as discounts when eating in restaurants and priority lanes when queueing up in establishments.
Senior citizens are entitled to five percent off retail prices on certain grocery items without VAT exemption. This discount is applicable to at least four categories of basic commodities worth up to P1,300 every week. Some of the food items included in the price reduction are:
- Rice, bread, and corn
- Fruits and vegetables
- Fresh eggs
- Milk and other dairy products
- Coffee, creamer, and sugar
- Cooking oil and salt
- Fresh, canned or processed meat products (chicken, beef, and pork)
- Canned sardines and canned tuna
To avail, senior citizens must purchase these groceries in supermarkets, convenience stores, and drug stores. Besides the card, they must also bring the OSCA (Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs) Purchase Booklet.
Certain local government units are also implementing their own special programs for their senior constituents, besides those mandated by the government. For instance, seniors in Makati and Pasig get free cakes during their birthdays and golden wedding anniversaries. The Caloocan LGU also provides grocery baskets.
With additional reporting by Nathelle Lumabad
Originally published in F&B Report Vol. 16 No. 1