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EXPLAINER: Hindi tax evader ang Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Rappler debunks claims alleged in a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) complaint that its parent company Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) evaded taxes. (READ: BIR files tax evasion complaint vs Rappler Holdings)

The BIR last March 2 claimed that Rappler had profited from the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to two foreign entities in 2015 and that it should pay income and value added tax (VAT) for the transaction.

The BIR asserted that Rappler is subject to income tax and VAT as the company is a dealer in securities.

Securities law expert and Rappler legal counsel Francis Lim, however, said that the issuance of PDRs does not make Rappler a dealer in securities. The capital raised from the issued PDRs is not yet booked as income by Rappler, Lim said, and therefore not taxable. (READ: Rappler lawyer cites loopholes in BIR tax complaint)

Watch this explainer in Filipino.

Tax evader ba ang Rappler?

Nagsampa ng tax evasion complaint laban sa Rappler Holdings ang Bureau of Internal Revenue​ (BIR).

Nagbenta umano ang Rappler Holdings ng P181 milyon na Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) sa dalawang banyagang korporasyon, ngunit hindi nagbayad ng income tax at value added tax.

Nasa P133 milyon daw ang tax liability ng Rappler.

Ano ang batayan ng BIR sa pagsasampa ng kaso?

Ang teorya ng BIR, kapag bumili at nagbenta ka ng securities, isa kang tindero ng securities kaya’t dapat kang i-tax.

Ayon sa abogado ng Rappler na si Francis Lim, mali ito. Kahit sino ay puwedeng tumangan ng securities. Hindi nangangahulugang dahil may hawak kang securities ay dealer ka na.

Rappler lawyer Francis Lim: but you and I can hold securities, PLDT, a telco, can hold securities
ABS-CBN has PDRs, GMA7 has PDRs, that does not mean these two companies are dealers in securities too.

Malinaw ang depenisyon ng "dealer of securities" sa Tax Code.

Host Karen Davila: You have to be a broker.  
Lim: at ang PDR ay hindi katumbas ng shares.

Dapat bang ini-register ng Rappler ang securities na inisyu nito sa dalawang kumpanya?

Hindi, dahil hindi naman naglako ang Rappler ng shares sa publiko. "Exempt transaction" ang tawag dito sa ilalim ng Securities Regulation Code.

Saan nakuha ng BIR ang P133 milyon?

Hindi natin alam.

Davila: where did the BIR get P133 million?
Lim: I really don’t know.

Kumita ba ang Rappler nang nag-issue ito ng PDRs?

Hindi, dahil hindi income ang PDRs.

Lim: The shares up to now are in the name of Rappler Holdings. What was issued were PDRs, a sort of a derivative.

Ayon kay Lim na isang propesor ng taxation law, hindi ito "income-taxable event."

Katumbas ng pag-iisyu ng PDRs ang pagkalap ng pondo.

Lim: It’s raising more capital through the issuance of PDRs. When you issue capital, that’s not income.

Hindi rin ba kailangang magbayad ng value added tax (VAT) ng Rappler?

Hindi, dahil para sa primary issuance ng PDR, Documentary Stamp Tax lang ang kailangang bayaran.

Ano ang epekto nito sa merkado?

Sinabi ni Lim, "bad precedent" ito. May "chilling effect" daw ito sa ibang negosyo at sa mga dayuhang mamumuhunan.

Ano ang ugat ng kasong ito?

Ayon kay Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, pangatlo na ito sa mga kasong ipinukol sa Rappler at simple itong political harassment– Rappler