BIR: Pia must pay taxes
Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) - February 4, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – For Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares, the question of whether or not Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach should pay income taxes is a non-issue because without a law exempting her, the beauty queen has no choice but to pay her taxes.

“It should not be an issue because it is in the law,” Henares said yesterday. “It was provided in the law that any tax exemption will have to be approved by two-thirds of the houses of Congress. Without it, there’s no exemption.”

Hence, Henares said Wurtzbach, just like any other taxpayer, would have until April 15 to pay and settle her income taxes.

Included among those that will be charged income levies are Wurtzbach’s prize winnings in the Miss Universe pageant. 

Nonetheless, Henares added Wurtzbach can claim tax credits from the BIR if she could prove that she paid income taxes in the US.

“She only needs to attach the documents from the IRS (US Internal Revenue Service) and that will be credited,” she pointed out.

The 16th Congress adjourned last Wednesday without any developments in a bill exempting Wurtzbach from paying taxes to be charged on her prize winnings as Miss Universe.

House Bill 6367, authored by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Abante Mindanao Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr., was passed by the ways and means committee last Jan. 26.

That was the day the beauty queen visited the House of Representatives, which was able to garner a quorum to tackle pending measures. 

Sought for comment, Benedict Tugonon, newly installed president of the Tax Management Association of the Philippines, agreed with Henares.

“We have a double taxation treaty with the US so she (Wurtzbach) can claim credit here for anything she paid there,” he said in a phone interview.

Tugonon, a tax lawyer, also said there could be legal problems if the bill on tax exemption is passed into law, especially with regard to equal treatment to people in similar situations as Wurtzbach.

“I have not read the bill yet, but it looks like there could be (violations of equal protection clause of the Constitution),” he clarified.

ACIRC BENEDICT TUGONON COMMISSIONER KIM HENARES FOR BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE HENARES HOUSE BILL HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE MAXIMO RODRIGUEZ JR. MISS UNIVERSE WURTZBACH
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