Set example, settle tax dues, solon urges Marcos
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should lead by example and pay his family’s estate taxes, penalties, and surcharges — a matter already decided by the Supreme Court in 1997 and now involving an estimated P203 billion — to encourage other taxpayers to settle their obligations.
A member of the Makabayan bloc in Congress made this call after the House committee on ways and means approved a measure extending the estate tax amnesty period for another two years.
Although the Marcoses cannot avail themselves of the amnesty, House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro said “it is but right” that they settle their dues.
“To encourage those who have not paid estate taxes to avail the amnesty, it is only right that the Marcoses lead the way by settling their P203- billion estate taxes, which became final and executory way back in 1997,” Castro said in a message to the Inquirer.
She added: “The Marcos administration has no moral authority to compel delinquent taxpayers to pay their taxes when the President and his family owe billions to the Filipino people.”
‘A good image’
Castro raised the matter at the House committee’s hearing on House Bill (HB) No. 7409, which sought to extend the amnesty period for another two years.
The bill was filed on March 2 by Speaker Martin Romualdez (a first cousin of the President), Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe of Zamboanga City, Senior Deputy Majority Leader Ferdinand Alexander Marcos of Ilocos Norte (the President’s son), and Tingog Representatives Yedda Marie Romualdez (the Speaker’s wife) and Jude Acidre.
A similar measure, HB 7842, was filed on April 11 by AGRI Rep. Wilbert Lee, but it had yet to be referred to the House committee for deliberation.
Under Republic Act No. 11213, or the 2019 Tax Amnesty Act, an amnesty period for the estate tax dues was set from June 15, 2019, to June 14, 2021. This was extended to June 14, 2023, under RA 11569.
RA 11213 is applicable to the estates of those who died on or before Dec. 31, 2017.
“Can the president avail [himself of] this estate tax amnesty, just in case? It would be a good image if our President would volunteer to pay his family’s estate tax liabilities,” Castro said during the hearing.
In response, Maria Luisa Belen, assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), cited RA 11213’s Section 9 which stated cases where the estate tax amnesty cannot be extended.
“[It] shall not extend to estate tax cases which shall have become final and executory, and to properties involved in cases pending in appropriate courts,” Belen said, quoting the provision.
“Though the Marcoses cannot avail [themselves of] the estate tax amnesty under RA 11213 which is the subject of the extension sought by the House Speaker’s bill, it is but right that the Marcoses pay their delinquency. The settlement of this huge debt to the Filipino people has been delayed for much too long,” Castro said.
At the same hearing, the House ways and means committee chair, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, cited data from the BIR showing that 133,860 taxpayers availed themselves of the estate tax amnesty from 2019 to 2023.
The government was able to collect P7.406 billion, or above its P6-billion collection target, Salceda noted.
“Now that the extended deadline—June 14, 2023—is upon us, we are informed that this tax amnesty is yet to be optimized. Families still struggle to comply with documentary as well as cash requirements. Hence, our leadership filed this measure to give more time to our constituents to clear their obligations,” Salceda said.
He added that he wanted the panel to “consider more proactive steps to optimize this second estate tax amnesty extension.”
“I sincerely hope this will be the last time we extend RA 11213 because it defeats the purpose of tax compliance if violations will always be forgiven,” the lawmaker said.
During the campaign for the May 2022 presidential election, the estate tax liability of the Marcos family was a hot-button topic for then-candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. His team, on several occasions, dismissed the issue as “all about politics” and a misdirection, while insisting that the case was “still pending in court.”
In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that the family of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the President’s father, owed P23 billion in estate tax. The amount had since ballooned to P203 billion due to nonpayment and interest, according to retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio.
The Supreme Court ruling affirmed a 1994 decision of the Court of Appeals which dismissed Mr. Marcos’ petition for review over his family’s tax liability.
According to the Presidential Commission on Good Government, the BIR had “already executed its final assessment” on the Marcos properties involved as early as 1993, and that “as early as 1997, the judgment on the tax case had become final and executory.”
In March last year, then-BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay said the bureau had sent a written demand to the Marcos family in December 2021 for the tax payment.
In September 2022, or three months into his presidency, the President said he was willing to have the tax case reopened.
“Open the case and let us argue it so that all of the things that we should have been able to say in 1987, ’88, ’89 (the three years after the Marcos family was ousted from Malacañang and forced into exile) that we were not able to say, we can clarify the properties that they say belong to us,” Marcos said in an interview with TV host Toni Gonzaga.
In December, then newly appointed BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. said he would “study” the Marcos tax case.