Carpio says gov't can't collect P203-billion estate tax if Marcos wins presidency

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Carpio says gov't can't collect P203-billion estate tax if Marcos wins presidency
This undated photo shows former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — If former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. becomes president, the unpaid P203-billion estate tax his family owes the Philippine government is "gone forever," retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Thursday. 

Speaking in an interview aired over ANC's "Headstart," Carpio, who is also lead convenor of opposition coalition 1Sambayan, said that the Bureau of Internal Revenue can sue citizens for "willful refusal to pay their taxes."

"I think we should ask the BIR why they did not do anything. And if they did do something, they should tell us what they did. They owe an explanation to the Filipino people," he said. 

"They will collect that if you are an ordinary person. But if you are a government official, you are a senator or governor, they will not collect it. How much more if you are now president? Can the BIR collect if you are the president? That's gone forever."

But why were these issues only raised now, instead of when Marcos ran for the Senate or the vice presidency? 

"Nobody questioned it. Everybody was, they were not worried. But now that he wants to be the president, if you are president you must be the model for the nation, and a model taxpayer, too. But if you are the biggest tax evader in the country, then who will now pay taxes to the government?" he said. 

"For the Marcoses, it's almost, from the time the case became final in 1999, it's almost 25 years. That's willful already," he also said. No charges have been filed over the issue in that time span. 

The Marcos family has not paid its estate tax despite a 1997 Supreme Court court decision ordering the Marcoses to pay a tax liability of P23.29 billion. Carpio earlier said that penalties in the decades that Marcos heirs failed to pay the debt have seen the amount balloon to P203 billion. 

To recall, the Presidential Commission on Good Government, the agency created to recover ill-gotten wealth from the Marcoses and their cronies, said that the tax bureau determined the following liabilities in 1991:

  • Deficiency Estate Tax Assessment against the Estate of Ferdinand Marcos in the amount of P23,293,607,638.
  • Deficiency Income Tax Assessments against Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos in the aggregate amount of P184,159,289.70 for the years 1985 to 1986
  • Deficiency Income Tax Assessment against Ferdinand Marcos Jr. [for the years] 1982 to 1985 in the aggregate amount of P20,410.

Marcos filed a petition against this before the Court of Appeals, which dismissed the petition on June 5, 1999 on the ground that the estate tax assessment of BIR — amounting to P23,293,607,638 — had already become final and unappealable.

The Supreme Court would later affirm the Court of Appeals' decision. Carpio earlier said the written demand has to be renewed every five years for the debt to be collectible. Since the 1997 ruling by the Supreme Court, five administrations have been unable to collect the tax.

Carpio said that under the tax code, "the heirs cannot get a single centavo from the estate of Marcos Sr. unless the estate tax is paid."

"So how are they able to live? They are running every election, spending money, but how are they getting this money?"

Despite the ruling, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, Marcos' spokesperson, has taken on the narrative that the estate tax owed by the Marcos family from 1982 to 1986 was still pending a decision on the forfeiture of the properties used as the basis for the taxable amount. 

"[If elected, Marcos] will appoint the BIR Commissioner. Will the BIR commissioner send him a notice of payment for the estate tax? That commissioner will be fired...because the president has supervision and control over the entire executive department," Carpio said. 

"Control means he can reverse their decisions. He can preempt them and make the decision himself."

The survey frontrunner is heavily banking on the Marcos brand, seen by victims of his father’s martial rule to carry him to Malacañang as a way for his family to get back to the presidential palace from where they were forced to flee due to a popular military-backed uprising called the People Power Revolution 36 years ago.




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