Incoming BIR chief says will collect Marcos family's estate tax

Incoming BIR chief says will collect Marcos family's estate tax
The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., meanwhile, said it is still waiting for an official statement from the Department of Finance and BIR on the deferment.
The STAR / Krizjohn Rosales, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The incoming chief of the Bureau of Internal Revenue vowed Wednesday that it would collect the estimated P203-billion estate tax of the Marcos family alongside the Department of Finance. 

Speaking in an interview aired over ANC's "Headstart," Lilia Guillermo, who is set to lead the BIR, said that her bureau will collect Marcoses’ estate taxes as long as she has the correct figures.   

"We have to convert those properties to cash para madagdag sa tax collections ng BIR. And ganun ang gagawin ko," she said. 

(We have to convert those properties to cash to add to the tax collections of the BIR. That's what I'll do.) 

"Please give me time to look at the documents. How much are we talking about? I don't know if it's really 200-billion. If that is really the amount, imagine, it will really help collections of BIR." 

But in an earlier report by GMA News, Diokno distanced from the estate tax issue when asked if he would move to collect it. 

"I haven't looked into that. I think it's been a while, it's been 40 years or 35 years in the [making.] I think it’s unfair to put the burden on me...that should have already been collected if that is collectible. So we leave it to the courts to decide on that," he was quoted as saying in mixed Filipino and English. 

SC ruling final and executory

No less than the Supreme Court has already spoken on the matter. 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 eventually affirmed this, but since the 1997 ruling by the Supreme Court, five administrations have been unable to collect the tax. 

During the 90-day campaign trail, the BIR said that it demanded the Marcos family to pay its estate tax but never publicized the formal demand letter despite public requests from Aksyon Demokratiko, the political party of then-candidate Isko Moreno who dug up the issue. 

Asked about doubts that the collection can be made now that Marcos, the subject of the case, will be sitting president, Guillermo said: "There should be no doubts because I met the President himself. He didn't say anything about it."

Marcos, during the campaign trail, also dodged questions about his family's estate tax liabilities in ambush interviews. 

'Role model?'

Guillermo also said that current Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor and incoming Department of Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno shares her position on the matter. 

"I'm going to tell [Marcos] that if the BIR really has to collect. I'll say, 'you won't pay this amount, it's the estate. Can you be a role model?' The Marcoses will pay their taxes because they comply with the law," Guillermo also said in mixed Filipino and English. 

"I need to know details...I should have the correct data, [and] I should know what really is in that decision. Both me and Governor Diokno will explain it to him," she also said, though it is unclear what figures and details are still missing given the High Court's decision.  

Earlier, retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said that the P203-billion tax would be "gone forever" once Marcos sits as President. 

"[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 in March. 

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

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