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BIR to review Tan’s tax payments

The Bureau of Internal Revenue will scrutinize the tax payments of tycoon Lucio Tan to see if he was paying the right amount to the government, a top official said Monday.

“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 and probably I can come out with a definite answer,” BIR commissioner Caesar Dulay said in an interview.

President Rodrigo Duterte said in his visit to Qatar over the weekend that Tan owed the government P30 billion in tax liabilities.

Dulay inspected a number of BIR’s regional offices in Manila Monday, the deadline for the filing of income tax returns.

“Frankly I don’t see [any red flags yet] but like what I have said, I’ll look at it and you come and see me again and I’ll tell you what’s the status, if there is,” Dulay said.

Duterte said Tan should pay more than P30 billion in tax liabilities to the government, as the Chief Executive vowed to run after oligarchs with tax liabilities.

“Lucio Tan has almost billion, 30 billion. He has to pay. He has to pay. All of them, they have to pay,” Duterte told more than 7,000 Filipinos at Lusail Sports Arena in Doha. 

Tan is listed as the country’s fourth richest man by Forbes Magazine. He has diversified interests in banking, airline, liquor, tobacco, real estate and education.

Tan owns Asia Brewery, Philip Morris-Fortune Tobacco Corp., flag carrier Philippine Airlines, Philippine National Ban, and the University of the East. His net worth was estimated at $4.9 billion as of August 2016. 

Dulay said the BIR would do its job to find out who were the tax cheats in the country, especially the names mentioned by Duterte in his statements.

“If there is somebody who can give any information [on tax cheats], it is all a matter of evidence and reviewing,” Dulay said.

Lucio Tan

Dulay said the BIR was also in talks with the lawyers of World Boxing Organization welterweight champion and neophyte Senator Manny Pacquiao regarding his existing tax case.

“I cannot reveal that now... We are still negotiating which means we have not come to any agreement or figure... They said they will come and see me again. I hope they do it fast,” Dulay said, adding the last discussion happened a month ago.

Dulay remained optimistic that the tax collection target of P208 billion for April and the P1.829 trillion for the whole year could be achieved amid the intensified tax collection efforts of the government.

“Especially now that it is income tax filing season and my fellow officers here are confident not only for this month but also the target for the year of P1.829 trillion,” Dulay said.

BIR’s total tax collection grew 9.5 percent to P1.574 trillion in 2016 from P1.441 trillion in 2015. However, it was lower than the P1.62-trillion adjusted target of the Duterte administration.

Dulay said earlier that to achieve the target of P1.829-trillion collection this year, the BIR would improve taxpayer compliance through the expansion of its compromise settlement program for audit cases of large taxpayers.

Topics: Lucio Tan , BIR
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