Court of Tax Appeals

Tax appeals court dismisses tax evasion case vs ex-BuCor caterer

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Tax appeals court dismisses tax evasion case vs ex-BuCor caterer

LeAnne Jazul/Rappler; Shutter

Owing to the government's failure to file a case within the prescribed period of five years, it loses the right to prosecute the alleged tax evader

MANILA, Philippines – A former caterer of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) escaped prosecution for supposed tax evasion because the government failed to file a criminal case within the prescribed period of five years.

The Court of Tax Appeals’ (CTA) Second Division, in a seven-page decision, dismissed the case against Ziegfried Loo Tian. According to the CTA, the former BuCor contractor can no longer be prosecuted because section 281 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) states that all violations of any of its provisions “shall prescribe after five years.”

“Jurisprudence has it that the waiver or loss of the right to prosecute the offender is automatic and by operation of law. Evidently, in this case, prescription has automatically set in when the plaintiff failed to file the present information within the five-year prescriptive period provided under section 281 of the NIRC of 1997, as amended.”

A prescription period refers to the maximum period of time set by the statute within which legal action should be taken or enforced.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the government’s arm that oversees internal revenue taxes and fees, accused Tian of providing inaccurate information about his value-added tax return during the first quarter of 2010. The BIR also said the action caused damage and prejudice to the government in the amount of P3.17 million.

According to the information about the case, the BIR referred the joint complaint affidavit against Tian to the Department of Justice on July 5, 2012. It was the same date the alleged violation of the law was discovered and the judicial proceedings for the complaint had started.

However, the case was only filed on October 25, 2022 – 10 years after the alleged violation was pointed out.

“The present information, while dated September 1, 2014, was filed with the Court only on October 25, 2022. Thus, the right of the government to institute the case against Ziegfried Loo Tian had already prescribed when the information was filed on October 26, 2022, thus justifying the dismissal of the present case,” the tax appeals court noted.

Tian is the sole proprietor of Golden Taste Food Services and General Merchandising (Golden Taste). The latter was contracted by the BuCor for catering services from August 17, 2010 to January 16, 2012 for the persons deprived of liberty inside various corrections facilities.

This includes the medium and minimum security compounds of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, and the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City and Davao, among others. –

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