GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 March) – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in Region 12 has filed a complaint against boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao for allegedly failing to submit documents involving his business interests and income sources that were earlier summoned by the agency.
Lawyer Rozil Lozares, BIR Revenue Region No. 18 director, said Wednesday they filed charges last March 1 before the prosecutor’s office in Koronadal City in connection with their ongoing investigation into Pacquiao’s tax payments in 2010 based on the income tax returns he filed at the Revenue District Office No. 110 here.
He said they specifically charged Pacquiao with violation of Section 266 of the National Internal Revenue Code.
The Code’s Section 266, titled “failure to obey summons,” provides for the penalties for any person who would neglect summons “to appear to testify, or to appear and produce books of accounts, records, memoranda or other papers, or to furnish information as required under the pertinent provisions of this Code.”
It said that upon conviction, violators may be “punished by a fine of not less than Five thousand pesos (P5,000) but not more than ten thousand pesos (P10,000) and suffer imprisonment of not less than one
(1) year but not more than two (2) years.”
“This is a not a tax evasion case but a non-submission of various documents we required from him as part of our investigation, which is a criminal offense under the law,” Lozares said in a press conference
in Koronadal City.
Lozares made the announcement following a grand kick-off activity in the area of the BIR’s tax campaign dubbed “I love the Philippines, I pay taxes” that was graced by BIR Assistant Commissioner Lucita Rodriguez.
The official said they launched an investigation into Pacquiao’s income tax payments as part of a routine review mandated by the agency for “high-profile personalities” in the area.
He said they initially issued a subpoena duces tecum (subpoena for production of evidence) last Jan. 24 directing Pacquiao to appear before the BIR regional office and submit various income-related documents and tax records.
Lozares said the subpoena, which was officially received by Pacquiao last Jan. 27, specifically required the latter to present copies of 33 business-related documents and 29 product endorsement contracts.
“He (Pacquiao) was supposed to appear before us last Feb. 7 but he failed so we filed a criminal case against him,” he said.
Lozares said Pacquiao sent instead a representative to inform them that he could not come “but did not submit any of the summoned documents.”
Michael Bren Evangelio, chief of staff of the Sarangani congressional office, said they could not comment on the matter as they have not yet received a copy of the BIR complaint.
But he said Pacquiao, who reportedly attended a regular session of the House of Representatives last Feb. 7, has already made efforts to comply with the BIR’s summons through his Manila-based counsel and accountant.
“They (counsel and accountant) went to the BIR regional office sometime in the last week of February to make the submissions so the congressman was surprised when he received a call that a complaint was filed against him,” he told MindaNews in a telephone interview.
Pacquiao started filing his income tax returns at the BIR Revenue District Office 110 here in 2010 after winning Sarangani province’s lone congressional district seat.
The lawmaker used to pay his taxes in Pasig City in Metro Manila, where he started his boxing career and got his tax identification number.
Pacquiao placed 24th in 2011 in the Forbes magazine’s survey of the world’s top 50 highest-paid athletes with his total earnings from boxing and other business interests reaching US$ 25 million.
“Boxing’s biggest draw has seen his last six fights generate more than 6 million pay-per-view buys combined. Pacquaio, who moonlights as a congressman in the Philippines, has started to beef up his endorsement portfolio, with Hewlett-Packard signing the boxer in the spring to a three-year deal for a global ad campaign,” Forbes posted in its website in May last year. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)