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MANILA, Philippines — From actress Ivana Alawi to the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s mascot “Revie,” personalities in government and show business on Tuesday, February 7, took turns promoting and emphasizing, over and over again, the importance of paying the right taxes.
The main endorser of the BIR campaign is none other than President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., whose family has yet to comply with a tax deficiency estate tax assessment issued by the BIR in 1991.
Marcos told a crowd of top taxpayers, government officials, and BIR personnel at the reception hall of the Philippine International Convention Center, “I encourage the public to pay the correct amount of taxes on time to support the country’s economic recovery and expansion so critical in this time.”
Not lost to the people at the glitz and glam launch of the BIR’s tax campaign for 2023 was the proverbial elephant in the room – the P23-billion Marcos estate tax which BIR officials from the previous administration said remained unpaid.
That multibillion peso unpaid estate tax issue hounded Marcos throughout the 2022 presidential campaign. It was deliberately left unanswered even after his victory and ascension to the presidency.
The question again was passed over on Tuesday when Marcos faced the media during the BIR launch party. The President only answered two questions fielded by the press.
The BIR, said Marcos, is the “lifeblood of government.”
During his speech, Marcos lauded the agency’s “Run After Tax Evaders” campaign and enumerated its 2022 achievements: 115 cases filed before the justice department, totaling P5.1 billion in tax liabilities. Another 38 cases, said Marcos, were filed before the Court of Tax Appeals, amounting to over P5.32 billion in tax liabilities.
The BIR was targeting to collect another P3.58 billion in tax liabilities through the recent filing of 74 tax evasion cases before the justice department.
It remained unclear if the tax liability of the President’s family was among those being pursued by the BIR under the current leadership. While the amount was originally pegged at P23 billion, it is estimated to have ballooned to over P203 billion.
During the 2022 campaign, then-Marcos spokesperson Vic Rodriguez insisted that the legal issues of the Marcos clan’s tax evasion case was not final. But the Supreme Court decision showed that it became final and executory in 1999.
Then-finance chief Carlos Dominguez III said in March 2022 that the BIR had demanded payment from the Marcos estate administrators.
The BIR then said it sent the Marcos estate its last demand on December 2021.
A week before the assumption of the Marcos presidency, the first pick for BIR chief, Lilia Guillermo, had said that she would ask Marcos to be a role model for Filipinos and comply with the High Court’s decision on the estate tax obligations of his family.
Marcos replaced Guillermo months later with Romeo Lumagui Jr., a close associate of the President First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos. Lumagui was part of the Marcos presidential campaign.
Lumagui, in his prepared speech and in video presentations played at the PICC on Tuesday, encouraged Filipinos to pay the right taxes and vowed that the BIR would pursue those who did not.
Lumagui also promised an agency that would make taxpayers feel that the BIR was ”on their side.”
The BIR, under Lumagui’s leadership, announced a P2.599 trillion target for 2023. – Rappler.com