Tax court upholds one-year prison term for beauty doctor Joel Mendez
The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) has upheld the one-to-three-year sentence meted out to celebrity doctor Joel Mendez for failure to file his income tax return for the year 2001.
In a 17-page en banc decision dated Sept. 8, the justices sitting in full court voted 8-1 to affirm the Feb. 10, 2016 guilty verdict handed down by the CTA Special First Division for one count of violation of Section 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code.
The doctor was also fined P10,000.
Mendez argued he was not required to submit his income tax return due to his lack of income at the time. The court said, however, that his business was shown to be existing and operating during that year.
It noted that Mendez began rendering medical services under the name of Weigh Less Center/Mendez Medical Group in 1996. He even took out several advertisements in major broadsheets in 2001. There was also no indication that the businesses were closed or retired then.
“Thus, any income derived by him should have been declared and paid in his ITR being the sole proprietor of said Group,” the decision read.
Instead of proving he had no income, the court pointed out Mendez failed to submit his accounting records and other documents despite notice by Bureau of Internal Revenue officers.
“Such act of non-submission of accounting records and documents is proof of willful and deliberate intent on his part to suppress evidence that would be adverse to him,” the decision read.
At the same time, the court also denied the appeal of the BIR to also impose a civil liability of P1.09 million on Mendez.
The court noted the computation of Mendez’s tax liability was not in the form of a formal assessment, thus rendering it a mere estimate.
The decision was penned by Associate Justice Catherine T. Manahan, with the concurrence of seven other CTA justices. Associate Justice Caesar A. Casanova dissented alone on jurisdictional grounds.
The doctor was previously sentenced to two to four years’ imprisonment and fined P20,000 in a Dec. 11, 2012 en banc ruling that found him guilty of two counts of the same violation of the NIRC.
This earlier case arose from the failure to file his 2002 ITR and failure to supply correct and accurate information in his 2003 ITR.
On July 18, 2016, Branch 88 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court also sentenced Mendez to a prison term of six to seven years and fined him P15,000 for failure to remit at least P1.87 million in employee contributions to the Social Security System.
He was also ordered to indemnify the amount to the SSS with a 3-percent interest.
Last February, authorities tried but failed to arrest Mendez in his home in Barangay Talipapa, Quezon City to enforce the QC RTC decision. /atm