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Tax court acquits Asi Taulava of P9.5-M evasion rap

Basketball player Asi Taulava won a case filed against him by the Bureau of Internal Revenue for supposed tax evasion,PBA photo/Released

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Tax Appeals has dismissed the P9.55 million-tax evasion case filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue against Philippine Basketball Association player Paul Asi Taulava in 2013.

In its 41-page decision promulgated on November 3, the tax court's First Division said the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Taulava failed to pay his tax liabilities for 2004 totaling P9,552,116.14—composed income tax deficiency amounting P3,201,600; value added tax amounting P1,000,500, and interest and surcharges worth P4,042,787 and P1,307,228, respectively.

Taulava was accused of violating Section 255 of the Tax Code which pertains to "failure to file return, supply correct information and pay taxes."

The court said the prosecution failed to show proof that Formal Letter of Demand as well as Assessment Notices were served to Taulava by the BIR to inform him of his tax deficiencies.

"Thus, it was held that a taxpayer's right to due process is violated when no valid notice of assessment was sent to [him]," the First Division said, citing a previous Supreme Court ruling.

"Consequently, the absence of competent proof that the FLD was duly transmitted to the taxpayer and that he was informed of the subject tax assessments, gives rise to the conclusion that the accused is under no obligation to pay for the subject taxes," the First Division added.

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The decision was penned by Associate Justice Erlinda Uy with the concurrence of Presiding Justice Roman Del Rosario and Associate Justice Cielito Mindaro-Grulla.

During the trial of the case, the prosecution claimed that the FLD as well as the notices of tax assessment were service to Taulava's residential address in Quezon City as well as the offices of Coca Cola Bottlers Phils. Inc. and the PBA.

The court, however, said the proof was presented to back the prosecution's claim.

Taulava had earlier told the court that he only learned of his supposed unpaid tax obligations in 2010 after being informed by his team manager in Meralco Bolts about the BIR complaint.

Taulava maintained that he never received any formal FLD, notices and tax assessments from the BIR.

Following his acquittal, the First Division ordered the return of the P24,000 cash bond Taulava had earlier posted before the court.

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