Pacquiao couple hales BIR, tax court to SC
While the tax bureau is asserting its right to collect their alleged tax deficiencies, boxing champ and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao and wife Jinkee have reiterated their plea for the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) claims and the Court of Tax Appeals’ (CTA) requirement for bonds to suspend the collection of P2.2-billion in supposed unpaid taxes.
In a memorandum, Pacquiao, a senatorial aspirant under the United Nationalist Alliance slate, and his wife asked the high court for “complete relief,” invoking their right to “constitutional protection not to be taxed out of existence.”
The 76-page pleading, which wrapped up the couple’s arguments against the collection of their alleged tax dues, asked the high court to “dispense with” the CTA’s requirement for a cash bond of P3.29 billion or a surety bond of P4.9 billion in exchange for the suspension of the collection of their alleged tax deficiencies in 2008 and 2009.
Last year, the high court issued a temporary restraining order stopping the CTA’s bond requirement and any BIR action on Pacquiaos’ assets in connection with the tax case.
The memorandum asserted that the CTA had acted “with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction” in fixing the cash bond at such amounts, which the Pacquiaos said they could not pay as their “undisputed net worth” is just over P1 billion.
“Fraud assessments do not carry the presumption of correctness; the process of collection adopted by respondent commissioner is not in accordance with law, thereby violating petitioners’ constitutional right to due process; and the amount of the bond makes it impossible for petitioners to comply with the condition imposed by respondent court,” the petition read.
It said Pacquiao’s status as “a true global Filipino icon” has made him and his family “a target.”
The Pacquiaos have long been contending that they have been promptly settling their tax dues here and in the United States, where the boxer has regular high-profile million-dollar bouts.
“Undeservedly, petitioners have been made the hapless subjects of a ruthless name and shame campaign designed to strike fear in the hearts of our citizenry in the hope that they will voluntarily pay more taxes than what is rightfully due, or risk similarly drawing the vengeful ire of the tax collector,” read the petition.
It said the couple was “immediately subjected to a fishing expedition” regarding their tax payments as soon as BIR Commissioner Kim Henares assumed her post in July 2010.
The petition said Henares had presented “no evidence” to prove the validity of BIR tax assessments that led the bureau to the Pacquiaos’ alleged tax deficiencies.
In her memorandum, meanwhile, Henares maintained the accuracy of the BIR’s tax assessments against the couple.
“The respondent stands by the validity and accuracy of the tax assessments against the spouses Pacquiao,” it said.
The pleading further asserted the state’s right to enforce tax laws and make necessary collections as “taxes are the lifeblood of the government.”
“Indeed, it cannot be overemphasized that any injunction that restrains the collection of taxes is a limitation upon the right of the government to its lifeline and wherewithal. The power to tax emanates from necessity; without taxes, government cannot fulfill its mandate of promoting the general welfare and well-being of the people,” it said.
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