Court stops Pacquiao, BIR from discussing tax mess

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

MANILA -- The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) stopped on Thursday the camps of Manny Pacquiao and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares from talking about the Sarangani lawmaker’s tax deficiency issue in public.

Pacquiao has since asked the CTA to reject the warrant of distraint and levy issued by the BIR last July against his bank accounts. The BIR issued the warrant allegedly due to the lawmaker and boxer's failure to pay taxes worth P2.2 billion in 2008 and 2009.

During the hearing, CTA Presiding Justice Roman del Rosario said both parties should refrain from giving further statements to media to avoid confusion.

Pacquiao believed the government should no longer run after him, citing documents from the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that he paid taxes from his fight purses.

Henares, however, said they have not received such documents. The Philippines and the US have a treaty against double taxation.

The BIR is open to a compromise agreement with Pacquiao but Henares said the boxer should make the first move since he is the one seeking for a tax credit.

Meanwhile, the BIR was not able to present its arguments as both sides agreed to hear them on January 16, 2014. It also declined to confirm a report that the tax bureau wanted to tell the CTA that it has no jurisdiction over the case.

"Unfortunately, I can no longer talk about the case because of the gag order issued by the court. Hope you understand," said BIR law enforcement head Claro Ortiz in a text message.

Amid the legal woe over Pacquiao's supposed unpaid taxes, one of the boxing icon's colleagues in Congress has proposed a law granting a lifetime tax exemption on the boxing champ.

In House Bill 3521 or "The Pacquiao Act of 2013," Valenzuela Representative Magtanggol Gunigundo proposed that the government confers a life-time individual tax exemption to Pacquiao for giving the Filipino people "outstanding honor and pride."

"He is a gifted athlete with knockout punch, lighting-fast speed, outstanding footwork, dexterity and solid chin. He is electrifying, exciting and a phenomenon. This is a fitting expression of a nation's gratitude for his achievements and in appreciation of the honor and inspiration he has brought to Filipino people," Gunigundo said.

An income tax is a tax on a person's income, emoluments, profit arising from property, practice of profession, conduct of trade or business or on the pertinent items of gross income specified in the Tax Code of 1997.

"In the face of defeat, he exemplifies the Filipino spirit's resolve with his discipline, perseverance and commitment to success. His generosity and desire to help, using his hard earned money, is also noteworthy," the lawmaker added.

The garnishment on Pacquiao's bank deposits came to light while the country was celebrating his comeback victory against American Brandon Rios in Macau on November 24. (Virgil Lopez/Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

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