It is the law.
Thus did Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares justify the release of the list that’s causing restlessness among not a few of those who are on it and those who are not.
But the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has the legal mandate to release to the public the list of 500 top individual and corporate taxpayers annually in keeping with the requirements of Republic Act No. 9480, known as the Philippine Tax Amnesty Act of 2007.
Quoting Henares, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Tuesday defended the publication of the list of large taxpayers for 2011.
The list of the biggest individual taxpayers for that year was topped by actress and TV talk show host Kris Aquino, President Aquino’s youngest sister. But surprisingly, the list did not include most of those on the Forbes list of the richest Filipinos.
In a text message forwarded by Lacierda to the media, Henares pointed out that Section 14 of RA 9480 “requires us to publish the list,” responding to a query on why the top taxpayers’ list was released to the public and published on the BIR website.
According to Henares, Section 14 provides as follows:
“Following the implementation of the tax amnesty authorized and granted under this Act, the provisions of Sections 71 and 270 of the NIRC (National Internal Revenue Code) of 1997 as amended, and Section 26 of RA 6388, to the contrary notwithstanding, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue shall, on or before May 31 following the close of each calendar year, prepare a list consisting the names of all taxpayers, their gross income and amount of income taxes paid for the immediately preceding taxable year.”
‘Very long list’
The same section compels the BIR to “allow the publication of the same in at least two newspapers of general circulation or the Bureau of Internal Revenue website,” she said.
However, since “the list will be very long and it will be expensive to publish it in two newspapers of general circulation, BIR has since that time opted to just publish the top 500 individual and corporate taxpayers and to do so on its website,” said Henares.
As No. 1 on the BIR’s list of Top 500 individual taxpayers, Kris paid P49.87 million for 2011.
Kris, who has numerous product endorsements and three TV shows last year, paid more taxes than her top bosses in ABS-CBN owned by the Lopez family.
Only ABS-CBN CEO Charo Santos-Concio was included on the Top 50 list (ranked 33rd), having paid P11.61 million in taxes.
Concio paid more taxes than the country’s second-wealthiest man, Lucio Tan, who paid P10.79 million and who was ranked 35th.
Tan’s counsel, lawyer Estelito Mendoza, ranked 14th, also paid more—P17.64 million in taxes.
Henry Sy landed on the 15th, having paid P16.58 million in taxes.
A shopping mall tycoon, Sy and his family remain the country’s richest Filipinos, according to Forbes magazine’s 2013 global billionaires’ list.
The Sy family ranked 68th on the Forbes list with a net worth of $13.2 billion.
Tan, whose family is into the alcohol, tobacco, airline and real estate business, has a net worth of $5 billion, and was ranked 248th among the world’s richest people.
David Consunji, who was on the Forbes list for the first time this year, was 176th on the BIR roster after paying P5.91 million in taxes.
Other businessmen on the BIR list were Orlando Vea of Smart Communications (16th, P16.25 million) and TV5 CEO Ray Espinosa (20th, P14.48 million).