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BIR: Special welcome for US green card holders

SPYBITS (The Philippine Star) - August 15, 2013 - 12:00am

An increasing number of Filipino-Americans living abroad are renouncing their citizenship at record levels due to stringent tax obligations, with authorities and tax lawyers calling 2013 a “record year” of renunciations. The Internal Revenue Service is being blamed for the “exodus,” with overseas Americans resenting the imposition of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) that requires disclosure of overseas assets that include bank accounts, insurance contracts, loans, and shares in non-US companies – all of which will be taxed. IRS officials insist that the FATCA is critical in the crackdown on tax evaders, with the US government losing an estimated $100 billion a year due to tax evasion.

The US is the only one among the 34 member-countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that taxes US citizens regardless of residence – something that overseas Americans find onerous and unfair saying it is tantamount to double taxation.  A lot of Fil-Ams and green card holders are having second thoughts about “the cost” of acquiring or maintaining their US citizenship, compounded by the fact that US economic recovery efforts seem to be on a “stop-go” mode, with some analysts describing it as “bouncing along the bottom.”

One of the most publicized renunciations was that of Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, especially since the news broke weeks before Facebook’s initial public offering – fueling speculations that he wanted to avoid paying hefty taxes. The Brazil-born Saverin indeed saved some $100 million in tax costs, and has since transferred to Singapore where capital gains taxes are not imposed. News that Saverin “un-friended” the US also triggered sharp criticism and spurred congressmen to file an “Ex-PATRIOT Act” (Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy Act) – providing more punitive action to those suspected of renouncing their citizenship to avoid tax liabilities. Aside from making the cost of renunciation more expensive, the proposed bill will also make it harder for “ex-patriots” to be admitted to the US.

Meanwhile, BIR commissioner Kim Henares is preparing the red carpet for Fil-Americans and green card holders upon their return to Philippine shores to welcome them in becoming responsible members of the country’s taxpayers club.

Manila Polo Club: Its highs and lows

The Manila Polo Club (MPC) is now one of the most sought-after exclusive organizations, with share prices hovering between P15 and P17 million – one of the highest ever after a low of P2.5 million some three years ago. The spike in value was precipitated by the transfer of the Aboitiz Group’s corporate headquarters from Cebu to Manila, with the executives entitled to a share each at the Polo Club and Manila Golf.  No doubt the renovations in club facilities, the good food plus the redevelopment of the club’s townhomes are also some of the reasons why the MPC is on a high.

Unfortunately, the club is also going through “lows” – and this, according to a disgruntled former club director, is due to various complaints and allegations that former officials are meddling in club affairs, like summoning employees to their homes to issue instructions; “handpicking” committee members; illegally dismissing personnel due to rumored relations with one of the managers; as well as an alleged “conflict of interest” issue involving a certain director whose company is allegedly a “vegetable supplier” to the club. Worse, some equipment is reportedly being rented at a hefty cost to the club.

The loudest murmurs are coming from former officials who were technically removed after allegations of “non-transparency” in their governance – with these complainants saying that the same people who had them voted out are the very same ones violating “good governance” principles.  So now they are agitating for a similar town hall meeting to bring all these issues and allegations out into the open and perhaps have the current board booted out, too.

MVP brings Phl back in the game

No one will argue that Manny V. Pangilinan’s efforts as well as financial support were major factors in the country’s successful hosting of the FIBA Asia championship that saw our Gilas Pilipinas team snagging the silver medal. The Philippines was previously suspended by the FIBA due to the long-running feud between rival basketball leagues, and this would have continued if not for MVP who stepped in – which paved the way for the creation of the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) with MVP becoming its president in 2007.

The SBP president definitely brought the Philippines back to the (global) game, with the Philippines earning a spot in the FIBA World Cup in Spain next year. Sports is a wonderful remedy to our country’s sad deficit in self confidence, and the faith and trust in our athletes has been restored, MVP said, obviously elated at the impressive showing of the Gilas Pilipinas players who refused to be cowed by a taller and more physically powerful Iranian squad.

Alphaland’s ‘Centennial celebration’

Alphaland president Mario “Babes” A. Oreta will surely be around for a very long time due to his genetic makeup, with proof of the fact seen last Friday when Babes (also known as MAO) threw a bash to celebrate his mother Doña Nena Alejo Oreta’s 100th birthday (shown in the photo singing with her son) at the state-of-the-art Alphaland Tower in Makati.

Alphaland happens to be the developer of the super-exclusive Balesin Island Resort off the coast of Quezon Province, as well as several high-end, top of the line development projects that include the members-only Marina Club which will have 300 berths to accommodate boats of all sizes – providing a clean, secure and efficient facility for boat owners who are anticipating the Marina’s opening sometime next year.

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Email: spybits08@yahoo.com.

ABOITIZ GROUP ABOLISHING TAX-RELATED INCENTIVES ALPHALAND ALPHALAND TOWER BALESIN ISLAND RESORT CLUB GILAS PILIPINAS MANILA POLO CLUB TAX
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