Angara urges BIR to consider settlement of tax fraud cases

Camille Elemia
Angara urges BIR to consider settlement of tax fraud cases
The Bureau of Internal Revenue should be 'practical,' says the senator, since collecting dues is more important than long legal battles

MANILA, Philippines – Senate ways and means committee chairman Juan Edgardo Angara called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to consider settling tax fraud cases for the government’s coffers.

Under Philippine tax laws, the government is barred from entering into a compromise for criminal tax cases already filed in court.

But Angara pointed out that these legal battles take years, and also mean costs for the government.

The BIR should be “practical” in its approach, he said, as the dues from these cases are more important.

“You know, like in a criminal case kung nag-settle na parties (if the parties have reached a settlement), theoretically you’re gonna settle criminal liability but in practice, you can’t settle because the witness just desists from testifying. There are many ways kung gusto talagang i-settle ‘yan (if you really want to settle it),” Angara told reporters on Wednesday, July 26.

“Sa atin importante diyan, makolekta ng gobyerno ‘yung due. Hindi naman lumaban ka ng sampung taon sa korte tapos wala kang nakolekta, gumastos pa gobyerno do’n. Dapat practical approach do’n. Kung compromise, i-kolekta na in the meantime para magamit na natin,” he added.

(For us, what’s more important is for the government to collect dues. You’re fighting in court for 10 years, spending for it, but you end up not collecting anything. We should have a practical approach there. If compromise, collect what can be collected in the meantime so we can use the money.)

BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay is open to the idea, as he pushed for a “working arrangement” with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to allow the BIR to review cases.

Dulay, however, refused to elaborate on this, even as tax complaints start with the BIR itself before being elevated to the DOJ.

“Proposal lang ‘yun (That’s just a proposal), we’re just working on it, we’re trying to … improve our collection, that could be an area [we] can address. Kaya nga (That’s why) under my admin we need to review and put some rhyme and reason for the filing of the tax cases,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced last Monday, July 24, that he has ordered finance officials to accept the P25-billion offer of Mighty Corporation as settlement for its tax liabilities.

But Duterte noted that accepting the settlement does not preclude possible criminal charges that the BIR may decide to file against the firm. –

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email