Tax court rejects Napoles daughter’s plea
The Court of Tax Appeals has slammed the door on the appeal of Jeane Catherine Napoles, daughter of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, against the P40.03-million tax assessment on her Los Angeles apartment for 2011 and 2012.
In a 17-page resolution dated Oct. 29, the full court unanimously denied Napoles’ appeal against the Second Division’s dismissal of the tax protest on Feb. 16, 2017.
Although the Third Division, on Dec. 6, 2017, acquitted Napoles of failure to file income tax returns because of insufficient evidence, her defeat at the Second Division meant she was still liable to pay taxes on her $1.2-million apartment at Ritz-Carlton in Los Angeles for 2011 and 2012.
The failed protest sought the cancellation of the tax assessment, with Napoles arguing that she was an overseas student who was not allowed by her visa to work and earn an income.
The apartment, she claimed, was part of the allowance given her by her parents.
The Second Division refused to put Napoles’ protest on trial after her lawyer, Ian Encarnacion, missed the scheduled pretrial conference on Feb. 16, 2017.
Encarnacion said the representative he sent to inform the Quezon City court that he would be late had mistakenly gone to the Third Division.
The justices, however, sustained the Second Division’s dismissal of the tax protest and described Encarnacion’s reasoning as “self-serving and extremely unreal,” adding that “the picture that petitioner tried to paint is simply incredible.”
The court pointed out that had the representative arrived as early as 11:30 a.m., as claimed by the lawyer, he would have had enough time to correct his mistake before the Second Division’s scheduled hearing at 1:30 p.m.
After all, the offices of the clerks of court were close to each other, and the day’s agenda was posted on the bulletin board.
The court added that “intriguingly,” Napoles’ camp correctly filed in the Second Division an urgent motion to suspend proceedings at 10:24 a.m., casting even more doubt on the lawyer’s account.
Although Napoles pleaded for the technicalities to take a back seat in favor of her rights, the court said she had failed to show “compelling reasons” to justify the relaxation of its rules.
It noted that the pretrial conference was postponed at least thrice at her lawyer’s request.
“It cannot therefore be denied that petitioner was accorded all the leeway to prosecute her case, but for reason only known to her, failed to appreciate it in her favor,” Associate Justice Esperanza R. Fabon-Victorino said.
Napoles’ lavish lifestyle abroad was cast in the limelight at the height of the controversy faced by her mother, who was accused of diverting lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations to fraudulent foundations.
The United States Department of Justice on July 31 announced the young Napoles’ indictment for conspiring with her family to launder $20 million in public funds through Southern California bank accounts.
The US justice department said the funds were later used to acquire real estate, business shares and luxury Porsche Boxster cars.
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