METROPOLITAN Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is readying the filing of a motion for reconsideration Thursday to lift the warrant of garnishment on the agency’s bank accounts by Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

This is in connection with alleged failure of MMDA to settle back taxes amounting to P120 million from 2000 to 20001.

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But MMDA Chairman Oscar Inocentes insisted the agency has never been remiss in its obligation and it was the BIR that has inadvertently made erroneous assessment of the tax obligations of the MMDA.

“Offhand, I assure you we were never remiss in remitting the withholding taxes we collected from our service providers to the BIR ever since. But if we are being compelled right now to settle our obligation without both agencies reconciling first their facts and figures, this will surely disrupt our operations,” Inocentes said.

He added the agency is prioritizing the filing of the legal remedy because freezing the agency’s assets will surely hamper its delivery of services to the public.

“Sigurado makakasuweldo pa rin ang mga tao namin ng mga ilang buwan, pero mahihirapan sa banding huli ang publiko dahil hindi na namin maitotodo ang aming serbisyo sa kanila kapag wala nang pera,” he quipped.

Inocentes was also quick to add that the MMDA is very much willing to settle its tax obligations if it can be established that it has indeed incurred tax deficiencies.

“In fact, I am seeking an audience with Revenue Commissioner Joel Tan Torres immediately to thresh out the circumstances surrounding the reported back taxes issue,” he said.

A fact-finding committee composed of Ex-Justice Raul Victorino as Chairman, MMDA Deputy Chairman Cesar Lacuna, and General Manager Robert Nacianceno as members, was immediately created by Inocentes to reexamine the tax liabilities of the MMDA and substantiate its position that the BIR has erred in the computation of taxes.

Inocentes gave the committee seven weeks within which to come up with its findings.

For his part, MMDA Assistant General Manager for Finance Edenison Fainsan said that sometime in 2002 when the BIR began examining the agency’s tax deductions for the year 2000 to 2001, the MMDA has repeatedly questioned the BIR’s basis in the assessment of taxes.

“Mali ang kanilang assessment ng withholding tax gamit ang sariling tax rate ng BIR at may discrepancies sa withholding tax code expenses. Mas mataas ang assessment ng BIR kaysa MMDA,” he added.

On Monday, Revenue Commissioner Torres said they are investigating the MMDA’s payment record for the succeeding years.

He cited 2008 as a point, adding that although the MMDA remitted withholding taxes, it did so on a partial basis.

In Malacañang, Presidential Spokesman Ricardo Saludo said the departments of Finance, Budget and Management, the BIR and MMDA should settle among themselves the issue of the withholding taxes of MMDA employees, so as to avoid becoming a public spectacle.

“We urge the agencies concerned to come to a settlement and if other agency heads would be able to help, perhaps the Secretary of Finance hopefully may help sort this out, and also the DBM because there may be some budgetary arrangements for this to sort out this matter, so it can be resolved and the demands of our tax legislation and especially the rightful remittance of funds that were deducted from the workers will be followed,” he said.

Saludo clarified that the BIR is after the MMDA for its supposed failure to remit the taxes that they collected from their employees, and not the employees themselves.

He said the BIR has also assured it would not take actions that would affect the services and operations of the MMDA.

He added that the MMDA, DBM, and DOF needs to find out how the MMDA could remit the money and ensure that it would not affect the agency’s budget and eventually hamper their operations and services to the public.

Saludo meanwhile denied that the government is setting a bad example among the private taxpayers following the back taxes problems with the MMDA and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

He said the BIR is simply doing its job by reviewing everything and ensuring that the taxes are properly remitted and paid for. (JMR/AH/Sunnex)