Solons say BIR 500 list flawed

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Several lawmakers on Wednesday criticized the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for coming out with a list of top 500 individual taxpayers led by Kris Aquino that they claimed were incomplete and inaccurate.

Sen. Ralph Recto, head of the Senate ways and means committee, said the BIR should have advised the public that its top 500 list covered a small sample of individuals who filed their income tax returns and not the entire universe of Filipino taxpayers.

“They should have consolidated the data first. It appears misleading,” said Recto.

Sen. Serge Osmeña III said the list was a flawed gauge of the taxes being paid by Filipinos. “The list misleads people into thinking that’s all the person paid. For transparency’s sake, the BIR should have come out with a complete report,” said Osmeña, chairman of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said: “It would have been best that all information pertaining to the 500 top taxpayers was disclosed so as not to cast doubt on the accuracy of the information made public.”

Looking puny

Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares’ decision to come out with the 2011 Top 500 list of individual and corporate taxpayers Monday with no clear-cut definition of the data covered and those excluded has caused an uproar among the country’s billionaires whose tax payments were made to look puny in contrast to that paid by President Aquino’s youngest sister.

Henares explained that the list covered only those who filed their individual tax returns and not the millions of Filipino employees whose income taxes had been automatically withheld.

Confusion

The list does not include the taxes paid by individuals from stock sales and dividends, and bank deposits.

Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino said the list created not only confusion but also suspicion that the mega-rich were not paying their taxes correctly.

Palatino said that instead of coming out with a single list, the BIR should have come out with several lists “to educate the public and more importantly inspire people to pay more taxes.”

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said: “The list should have included everyone, whatever the status of the amount they paid, irrespective of whether the amount is still under investigation or considered definitive.”

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