With fame comes fortune which, unfortunately, is taxable.
This was the message the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) sent on Friday to model and actress Solenn Heussaff when it charged her with tax evasion over her alleged failure to pay P3.6 million in taxes.
In the complaint it filed in the Department of Justice (DOJ), the BIR accused the talent of TV network GMA7 of under-declaring her income for 2011 by more than P6 million. Also included in the suit was her accountant, Teofilo Magno Jr.
Heussaff was specifically charged with wilfully attempting to evade payment of taxes and deliberately failing to supply the agency with correct information about her income, resulting in the nonpayment of taxes—a violation of sections 254 and 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.
The INQUIRER tried but failed to reach the actress for comment. But in a post online on Friday, she tweeted: “I don’t know what happened … I’m an honest person, as transparent as it gets. Someone made a mistake and I have to fix it.”
The BIR said it had earlier informed Heussaff that it was investigating her when it sought to examine her book accounts and other accounting records for 2011.
It added that after making inquiries from business firms that had engaged the actress/model’s services, it found out that she earned P13.38 million during that year.
However, Heussaff declared a gross income of only P6.73 million in her income tax return for 2011.
According to the BIR, the actress owed the government P3.6 million more, inclusive of surcharges and interests.
Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, meanwhile, had a similar message for celebrities enjoying the financial perks which come with fame.
“My advice to personalities who make money out of being [in the public eye] is that they should also be aware that it is this same exposure which makes it easy for us to check [on] them. So they should not have the temerity to think that they can escape,” she told reporters at a news briefing at the DOJ.
Henares said that celebrities should do well to remember that with fame and fortune comes the responsibility of paying the right amount of taxes. “You cannot have your cake and eat it too,” she added.
At the same time, she advised those who have hired accountants for their financial dealings to always pay their taxes through a check made payable to the BIR.
“Pay through checks because it’s more difficult to divert it,” Henares said.