IN QATAR. President Rodrigo Duterte praises the efforts of the overseas Filipino workers while encouraging them to be more proactive in the fight against corruption during a gathering with hundreds of Filipinos at the Lusail Sports Arena in Lusail City, Qatar as Cabinet members listen.
QUEZON CITY — Taking the cue from President Rodrigo Duterte, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has started looking into the tax liabilities of business tycoon Lucio Tan, the Mighty Corp. and the Dunkin Donuts which is operated by some of the owners of Philippines Daily Inquirer.
BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay said the BIR is still in the process of gathering evidence on any tax liability of Lucio Tan, one of the country’s wealthiest businessmen and the 501st wealthiest in the world based on Fortune ranking and owner of the Philippine National Bank, Philippine Air Lines, Asia Brewery, Eton Properties, Century Park Sheraton Hotel, Fortune Tobacco Corp., Tanduay Distillers, among others, who Duterte said owes the government P30 billion in unpaid taxes.
“Lucio Tan has almost billion, P30 billion. He has to pay. He has to pay. Lahat, they have to pay,” Duterte said.
“Kaya kayong mga mayayaman, mga tax evasion niyo, magbayad kayo,” Duterte said in Qatar.
Aside from Tan, Duterte also mentioned business mogul Roberto V. Ongpin, who supposedly paid only 1 percent of taxes.
“[Si] Ongpin, binigyan ng concession ni [former President] Cory [Aquino]. Since then until now, 1 percent lang [binayaran]. Everybody is paying 10 percent,” he said.
He also continued his tirades against ABS-CBN Corp. and the Philippine Daily Inquirer Inc. , media companies which he accused of reporting on him and his administration unfairly.
Dulay clarified that BIR has not developed any case yet against Tan but pointed out that if BIR finds proof to file cases against the businessman then the agency will file the necessary charges.
”It is all a matter of evidence and reviewing,” he stressed during his visit to the BIR regional office in Quezon City to check on preparations for the last day of filing of Income Tax Return (ITR).
The BIR chief also said he does not know of any case filed against Tan but said that he “will look into it.”
”Frankly, I am not aware of any pending case against Mr. Lucio Tan but give me a few more days and I’ll look at the records and talk to the assessment people of BIR. (By then) probably I can come out with a definite answer,” he said.
Dulay also said the agency is now studying large tax payers with tax liabilities named by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
He said efforts to run after tax evaders will help the agency hit its P1.829 trillion collection target for this year.
Aside from Tan, whom the President said owes the government some P30 billion worth of unpaid taxes, the local franchise owners of Dunkin Donuts, and cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. are also being closely studied by the agency.
Dulay also disclosed that representatives of some businessmen and taxpayers who have pending tax liabilities such as Senator Manny Pacquiao have talked to him for compromise.
He is optimistic of the results of these meetings as he noted that businessmen need tax clearances which they cannot have if they have pending tax liabilities.
With regards to Pacquiao’s case, Dulay said the senator’s lawyers met him once in March but nothing has been agreed on yet.
”They said they will come and see me again. I hope they do it fast,” he said.
In 2014, BIR said Pacquiao was remiss in paying some P2.2 billion in taxes for the years 2008 and 2009.