Senator seeks probe of P204-billion unpaid estate tax of Marcos family

PHILIPPINE PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM AND LIBRARY

A SENATOR wants the Senate to investigate the government’s failure to collect billions of pesos of taxes from the heirs of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.

In a resolution dated March 28 but released only on Sunday, Senator Aquilino “Koko” L. Pimentel III sought the probe “in aid of legislation.” He also wants to identify past and current tax officials responsible for the oversight.

“There is an urgent and urgent need for the Senate to look into the reasons” why the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) had failed to collect the taxes that have ballooned to almost P204 billion ($ 3.96 billion), according to a copy of Senate Resolution 998.

Both the country’s tax agency and a body formed in the 1980s to recover ill-gotten wealth of the dictator and his cronies this month confirmed the tax assessments, but did not say why these have not been paid.

The country’s tax agency had demanded payment of the taxes from Marcos estate administrators, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters in a Viber message on Wednesday, citing the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay on March 14 said his office did send a written demand letter to the Marcos heirs on Dec. 2, 2021 regarding their tax liabilities.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) separately said the tax agency in 1991 assessed the estate of Ferdinand Marcos P23.29 billion in estate taxes, P184.16 million in unpaid income taxes of Mr. Marcos and his wife Imelda for 1985 and 1986, and P20,410 in unpaid income taxes against the dictator for 1982 to 1985.

In 1993, BIR levied and sold 11 Marcos properties in Tacloban after the family failed to file an administrative protest. The lots were awarded to the state in the absence of bidders, it said.

The Supreme Court in 1997 denied a plea by Marcos, Jr. to void the levies as it ruled the tax assessments had become final and unappealable.

Mr. Marcos’s detractors have pressed his family to pay the taxes, which have supposedly ballooned to more than P200 billion due to interest and other penalties.

Senator Imee Marcos said any debt owed to the government must be paid, as she questioned the timing of the revival of her family’s estate tax issue and blamed “rotten politics” for it.

Mr. Pimentel in his resolution said the tax case had become final and executory as early as the late 1990s “and hence should be fully implemented and executed.”

He also said the government could use the money to fund subsidies to the poor amid a coronavirus pandemic and surging global oil prices.

“There is no clear funding source for these proposed subsidies and it is immediately obvious that the government would be hard-pressed to source the much needed funds in order to support these social alleviation measures,” Mr. Pimentel said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday night asked why the estate taxes had remained unpaid.

“In our taxation, the government can only prod,” he said in a taped speech. “The Bureau of Internal Revenue is there. Let’s ask them why the estate tax is still unpaid. ”

The Finance department has said the estate tax would be an additional revenue source for the government amid surging global oil prices.

Critics including retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio have been calling on the tax agency to file a criminal case against the Marcoses for refusing to pay the taxes.

A rival political party earlier warned that the debt could get erased if the tax agency fails to collect the tax by June 30, in case former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., who is leading in presidential opinion polls wins the election .

Government could no longer collect the estate taxes if the son and namesake of the late dictator becomes president, Mr. Carpio told the ABS-CBN News Channel on Thursday. He insists the Supreme Court decided in 1997 that the tax assessment had become final and executory.

“The president should be the No. 1 model for the country, ”he said. “He’s the father of the nation. Government runs on taxes, its fuel. Without taxes, government cannot run. ”

Mr. Carpio said the president must set an example. “Everybody’s saying now, ‘If he does not pay, why should I?’ It has to be settled before the election date. ”

The dictator stole as much as $ 10 billion (P521 billion) from the Filipino people, according to government estimates, earning him a Guinness World Record for the “greatest robbery of a government.” PCGG has recovered about P171 billion. – Norman P. Aquino

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