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BIR tags Calata owner for tax evasion

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MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) filed yesterday a tax evasion complaint against businessman Joseph Calata, owner of listed agribusiness firm Calata Corp. for allegedly failing to provide accurate information in his income tax return for 2011.

Based on the criminal complaint lodged with the Department of Justice, Calata was assessed a tax deficiency of P144.49 million including surcharges and interest.

This is not the first time that the young entrepreneur figured in a controversy. In November 2012, Calata was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly rigging the share price of the listed agricultural trading firm.

Described as a self-made young billionaire, Calata decried the case filed by the BIR, saying he’s innocent and pays taxes.

“I’m not guilty.  Hindi ako nagnanakaw sa gobyerno. I don’t evade taxes. I pay what is required of me. What I know is that I try to create jobs and develop agriculture.”

“Agri is where 70 percent of Filipinos depend for their livelihood.  I’m optimistic that justice will be done to me through the judicial process. In the meantime, a man is innocent until proven guilty,” Calata said.

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An investigation by the BIR showed that Calata underdeclared his earnings and only paid P10,000 in income tax in 2009 to 2010 and P100,000 for 2011.

Records showed that Calata declared gross sales of only P2.76 million for the period 2005 to 2011.

But the BIR probe disclosed that there was a significant increase in the amount invested by Calata in his listed firm from P600,000 in 2010 to P217.7 million.

Internal revenue commissioner Kim Henares challenged Calata to present all tax returns he filed with the agency to disprove the agency’s claims.

“A comparison of the documents and information at hand clearly showed a discrepancy in Calata’s declared income since the amount of his investments far exceeded the income that he had declared with the BIR. The discrepancy does not even take into account other expenses incurred by Calata. In fact, even the aggregate amount of his declared income for the last seven (7) years is not adequate to address the amount of investment he made for taxable year 2011,” the BIR said.

“The amount representing the said discrepancy should be considered as unreported income as there is no indication that Calata had other sources of income other than that of his earnings. Neither did he file any tax returns relative to any other source of income,” it added.

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