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BBM camp cites BIR execs’ stand on estate tax

SEVERAL officers of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have declared that the heirs and administrators of the late President Marcos’s estate cannot be compelled or sued in court for tax evasion, even if they failed to pay the P23-billion (now computed at P203 billion) tax assessment on the latter’s assets, presidential frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s camp said Monday.

This, the Marcos camp said, may be deemed a direct rebuff to previous statements of former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and presidential aspirants Isko Domagoso, Manny Pacquiao and Leni Robredo.

The BIR officials had explained the estate tax is levied on real and personal properties of a dead person and not on the assets owned by his relatives.

“I can’t recall of any individual being sent to jail for non-payment of the said tax,” one of the regional directors said in an earlier interview with Manila Bulletin.

The Supreme Court, noted the Marcos camp, apparently agreed with the BIR official when it said that it is the estate, and not the heir or heirs, which is liable to pay the taxes.

In a decision (Marcos II v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 120880; June 5, 1997, 339 PHIL 253-275), the SC stated:

“In the case of notices of levy issued to satisfy the delinquent estate tax, the delinquent taxpayer is the Estate of the decedent, and not necessarily and exclusively, the petitioner as heir of the deceased. In the same vein, in the matter of income tax delinquency of the late president and his spouse, petitioner is not the taxpayer liable.”

The newspaper report cited officials explaining that the proper thing to do under the Tax Code and revenue regulations is to seize and sell in public auction the properties of the deceased to settle the indebtedness.

“That is what we have been doing for years since the death of the former strong man, but the problem nobody was interested in buying them,” the unnamed official added in the Manila Bulletin report.

Earlier, the camp of the former senator denounced the “gutter politics” of rivals framing the estate tax case as a matter of tax evasion when, they said, the litigation over some properties listed in the estate is still pending in court.

“Our rivals are misdirecting everyone by claiming that the case has attained finality when the truth of the matter is, it is still pending in court and the ownership of the properties in litigation has yet to be settled,” said Atty. Vic Rodriguez, spokesman and chief of staff of Marcos.

“That being the case, the fair and just tax base to be used in computing the estate tax cannot yet be established with certainty,” Rodriguez added.

The BIR officials cited in the news report had explained that the bureau has now been negligent in collecting the estate tax.

When the dictator died in 1989, the revenue examiners fixed his estate tax debts at P23 billion. The deficiency tax rose to P203 billion due to the one-time 50 percent surcharge and 20 percent yearly interest.

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