Mind da News: Lifetime Tax-Exempt?

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, December 10, 2013 —  At no other time since the Commonwealth transition to Republic (1935-1946) but today – 78 years after – that members of the House of Representatives, at least nine of them, have exhibited so ridiculously such a callous mentality unmindful of the least degree of decency. Their acts speak of judgment at its worst.

The nine, to bail out beleaguered Manny Pacquiao, the multi-titled world boxing champion a.k.a. Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, from his tax woes – P2.2 billion deficiency in two years – filed two bills proposing to exempt him from paying taxes. What misdirected legislation that can make the Philippines a laughing stock among respectable nations.

One bill, authored by Valenzuela City Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo, would give Pacquiao a lifetime exemption from taxes of all incomes retroactive to ten years. The other bill, authored by Party List Rep. Lito Atienza – co-authored by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Quezon Rep. Aleta Suarez, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla, Party List Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, La Union Rep. Victor Ortega, Surigao del Sur Rep. Philip Pichay and Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo – would grant tax exemption to all athletes.

Gunigundo noted that conferring “the rare privilege of a lifetime income-tax exemption [to] an individual in the country … had been done in Colombia, which granted a similar privilege to its citizen who won the Miss Universe crown in 1958” – Luz Marina Zuluaga. Besides this, the Colombian government built her a mansion, declared a national holiday in her name and printed postal stamps in her honor. (Philippine Daily Inquirer, December5, 2013)

Section 3 of Gunigundo’s Bill reads,“The state shall confer lifetime individual income tax exemption to boxing icon Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, also known as Manny Pacquiao, who has given outstanding honor and pride to the Filipino people.” (ANC, World Tonight, December 5, 2013).

In various press statements, the authors and co-authors have couched in different fallacious, hollow rhetoric the accolade “has given outstanding honor and pride to the Filipino people” as the reasons for granting Pacquiao the extraordinary privilege. That has yet to be seen and appreciated in concrete.

If these bills become a law, Pacquiao will be more privileged than the royal families in England.  According to Wikipedia, “members of the Royal Family other than The Queen and The Prince of Wales are subject to tax in the ordinary way.” The Prince of Wales [now Prince Charles] is the Crowned Prince, successor to the throne. However, the Queen and the Prince of Wales are subject to “a Memorandum of Understanding on Royal Taxation, dated 5 February 1993, which records the arrangements for the payment of tax by The Queen and The Prince of Wales.”

As noted in Wikipedia, “The Prince of Wales is not legally obliged to pay tax on his income from the Duchy of Cornwall but has chosen to pay income tax at the normal rates pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding on Royal Taxation. The income of the Prince of Wales from sources other than the Duchy of Cornwall is subject to tax in the normal way.”(bold supplied)

Mail On Line (December 9, 2013) said the Buckingham Palace “senior courtiers are said to be ‘nervous’ about reaction to revelations that the Queen will not pay a penny on her mother’s £50million fortune”. The Queen Mother died last March. While the Queen is exempted under the 1993 Memorandum from paying the almost £20million (pound sterling) in inheritance tax, this is being contested by former Labour Party MP Dennis Canavan, who declared: “I find it incredible that the Royal Family should think that they should indulge in tax avoidance or evasion.”

The proposed Pacquaio tax-for-life exemption law is class legislation. The constitutionality can be questioned in Court. Even if the House will ignore ethics and pass the law, will the Senate approve it? Even if passed by the Congress, the President will surely veto it.

If Pacquaio is really a “living national hero” and “the inspiration of the present and future Filipino youth”, he, as congressman, should oppose the legislation. That will be upholding propriety and national welfare to put sense in the senseless Congress – even at the cost of billions of pesos he is loath to part from. Can Manny Pacquiao, the world multi-titled boxing champion, a.k.a. Congressman Emmanuel D. Pacquiao emulate Prince Charles as model taxpayer?

Here’s from Mail On Line: “From 1969 Prince Charles made voluntary tax payments of 50% of profits from the Duchy of Cornwall, but this reduced to 25% in 1981 when he married Lady Diana Spencer.” Ordinary income tax which Prince Charles chose to follow is 40 percent above £2,500. The Prince of Wales did not have to pay taxes for profits from the Duchy of Cornwall.

Why is the Philippines poor? From the sari-sari stores to the mega corporations, small service providers to the big professionals in the country do not declare correctly — if they declare at all – their incomes to evade taxes. Can Manny Pacquiao, the multi-titled world boxing champion a.k.a. Congressman Emmanuel D. Pacquiao defy partisan politics, rise above and truly be a model of an honest taxpayer?

If he does, who knows he will awaken the country from tax unconsciousness and make the Philippines as progressive as the United Kingdom, not remain poor like Colombia.

[Author’s Note: Mind da News, an alternate of COMMENT, is specifically an opinion on current news. patpdiaz@yahoo.com]