President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night called out the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for its failure to collect a certain estate tax due, saying it could help the cash-strapped government bankroll some of its programs.
In his weekly televised public address, Duterte said the BIR need not be reminded of its mandate to collect the estate tax.
“The government can only prod. There is no need for a reminder from Malacanang. The BIR is there, so we should ask the BIR why it has not yet collected the estate tax,” the President said.
Although the President did not name the party involved, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Wednesday the BIR is exerting all efforts to collect the unpaid estate taxes from the heirs of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., which have ballooned from P23 billion in 1997 to about P203 billion today.
But according to Partido Federal ng Pilipinas general counsel George Briones, the Supreme Court ruled with finality on the P23 billion in estate tax owed by the Marcoses, and not the remainder of the P203 billion which may still be subject to reconciliation.
Former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is running for president under the PFP.
“What is final is the P23 billion in assessment,” Briones said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
“What I am saying is the figure of P203 billion is not final because that is still subject to reconciliation,” he added.
The DOF said the estate tax will be an additional source of revenue amid the ongoing oil crisis that has driven rising prices of basic goods.
In a message to reporters, Dominguez said collecting the tax might take time.
“[The] BIR is collecting and demanded payment from the Marcos estate administrators. They have not paid. [The] BIR will continue to consolidate the titles in favor of the government on those properties which have been levied upon,” Dominguez said, relaying a message from the BIR.
“The procedure may take time as it involves selling at public auction to convert to cash. [The] bottomline [is] Marcos does not take any steps to settle and pay because [of] pending litigation,” the message said.
Earlier this month, the DoF said it was pushing the BIR to collect the unpaid P203 billion estate taxes of the Marcos heirs to generate more revenue for the government that will help institutionalize programs to ease the lives of Filipinos amid the oil crisis.
Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez said in a television interview that DoF wanted the BIR and the Customs not only to collect revenue but also look for sources of revenue.
The BIR, as previously confirmed by the Aksyon Demokratiko Party, wrote a demand letter in December 2021 asking the Marcoses to pay their estate taxes.
Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. earlier said “there’s a lot of fake news involved” in his family’s unpaid estate taxes despite the 1997 Supreme Court ruling that they must settle their liabilities, which initially amounted to P23 billion in 1997.
Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier said the BIR should file a criminal case against the Marcos family over their “willful refusal” to pay their estate tax liability worth P203 billion.
In a briefing, acting presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said the BIR should go after all those who are not paying their taxes, not just a certain politician, because the government needs additional funds.
Andanar would not say if the President was referring to the Marcos estate tax.
The camp of presidential candidate Marcos repeatedly dismissed calls for his family to settle the tax liabilities and said the case is still pending in the courts.
But the BIR and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) refuted the claim, with the BIR saying it sent a letter to the Marcos family in December 2021 demanding payment of its tax obligations.