MANILA - Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Wednesday came to the defense of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares, who has come under fire for allegedly being selective in her tax collection campaign.
“Hindi arogante si Commissioner Kim Henares. She is just her natural self. I know Commissioner Kim Henares personally," Lacierda said.
He said the government is conducting a campaign against all tax evaders and not just any specific profession.
“At saka ‘yung shame campaign, it is not shame—if you look at it, it does not… Well, while it looks at the professions that seem to be paying less, it does not shame the profession itself," Lacierda said.
"It shames those who do not pay the taxes.And if there’s a class that they want to shame, it’s those people who don’t pay their taxes properly; and as result, it burdens other people who pay their taxes like you and I," he added.
He believes that those who pay their taxes have nothing to be ashamed about. “Kung sila naman ay nagbabayad ng wastong buwis, ano ang ikahihiya nila bilang isang taxpayer? And I think there is really so much taxes that we can collect from the professionals. And I think this is also a way of encouraging our professionals who—that they can contribute more to the national economy.”
The Palace spokesman said due process is being observed in running after tax evaders.
“The cases right now are… Fina-file kasi sa DOJ ‘yan, at doon sa DOJ, dumadaan sa mga proseso rin. May mga cases tayong nafa-file na after lumampas ng DOJ, nafa-file na ngayon sa Court of Tax Appeals, at doon—may mga kasong nandoon na rin. But a number of them are undergoing preliminary investigation dito sa DOJ," he added.
The BIR has asked the DOJ to fast track tax evasion cases.
Lacierda said the BIR has already gone after small businesses with large tax liabilities. ”They are not known but it does not necessarily mean that they are small businesses. In fact, marami doon hindi natin kilala ‘yung mga pangalan ng mga korporasyon, mabibigla na lang tayo there is such a corporation and the reflected taxes is only so much. And when it was audited, it turned out that they—their tax due is much, much more.”
The Palace, however, seems cool to a bill in the Senate that seeks to lower income tax rates.
“We will ask sila, DOF (Department of Finance). Mas mabuting sila ang sumagot ng tanong na yan at saka si Commissioner Kim Henares," Lacierda said. "Magkaka-effect kasi yan sa... a long effect for instance, sa ating fiscal space. Marami tayong social programs na ini-implement. Iyong mga ganoong impact, dapat pag-aralan. So I think sila DOF would be in a better position to say if we do that, this is what will happen. “
Lacierda added, "Remember, we have not raised taxes. We have managed to collect more. We have made it a point not to raise taxes."