THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) filed tax evasion charges against a billionaire for failure to file and pay his correct income tax for the years 2007 and 2008 amounting to P5.5-billion.

The amount is the biggest haul so far since the BIR reactivated its Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program.

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Named as respondent in the suit filed before the Department of Justice was Macario Lim Gaw Jr., whose address was at #5 David Street, Corinthian Gardens Subdivision, Quezon City.

He was charged for willful evasion of payment of tax for the purchase of 10 lots in 2007 and 2008 aggregate amount of P4,119,183,500 and sold it for P8,419,621,441.12 eight months later.

Gaw, the fifth taxpayer to be charged under the RATE program, was listed as of March 31, 2010 by the Philippine Stocks Exchange as the 39th top stockholders in the Highlands Prime Inc., a subsidiary of the Henry Sy-led SM Investment Corp.

His family is said to own Macro LPG Company, the largest LPG supplier in the country, and has some holdings in an international packing company, Mega Packaging Solutions.

BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said Gaw willfully evaded the payment of his correct income in 2007, and to supply the accurate information in his income tax return in 2008. He also failed to file value added tax returns for 2008.

The suspect deliberately evaded the payment of the 32 percent income tax and the 12-percent VAT due to the sale of his 10 lots, according to Henares.

The properties were sold to the Aruze Corp., which is one of companies involved in the development of Pagcor City project, a Las Vegas-like entertainment complex on Macapagal Blvd. in Pasay City.

Henares said the respondent tried to hide his acquisition of the lots and their subsequent sale by setting up various entities for one-time transactions.

“By having multiple Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) and reporting the sales of the lots by filing the tax under several TINs show the intent to mask the whole transaction and make it look like it’s a capital gain," she noted.

"Kasi if you have only one TIN, we will see right away that there are 10 transactions, bale 20 transactions. It would show that you’re engaged in buying and selling lang,” she said.

She further explained that for a person engaged in buying and selling, land is considered ordinary asset. However, for somebody who buys a house and stay there for long time, its classified as capital asset because it’s not intended to be used as part of a business inventory.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima also said that what made this an obvious attempt to evade taxes was Gaw’s use of multiple TIN so that it would be more difficult for the BIR to detect his other assets. (JCV/Sunnex)