MANILA - The Court of Tax Appeals has acquitted Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) player Paul Asi Taulava in his P9.55-million tax evasion case filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in 2013.
In a decision promulgated Nov. 3, the court acquitted the NLEX Road Warriors cager after the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The court noted that the prosecution failed to prove that they were able to inform Taulava of his tax deficiencies.
According to the charge sheet, the Fil-Tongan player had allegedly failed to pay his 2004 tax deficiencies worth P3.2 million and value-added tax deficiencies amounting to P1 million, plus interest and surcharges worth P4.042 million and P1.3 million respectively.
During the trial, the prosecution told the court that Taulava was served notices in different addresses aside from his Quezon City home, such as the offices of Coca-Cola Bottlers Phils. Inc. and the PBA.
The court also noted that the prosecution had stated that Taulava’s wife executed a compromise offer in 2010.
Taulava said he came to know about his supposed tax deficiencies after he was shown a letter request by the manager of this former team Meralco Bolts in 2010.
He, however, denied receiving formal notices from the BIR such as the Final Assessment Notice, First Notice Before Issuance of Warrant of Distraint and Levy, Final Notice Before Seizure, as well as collection notices sent to the offices of Coca-Cola, his former team, and the PBA.
“Consequently, the absence of competent proof that the FLD (formal letter of demand) was duly transmitted to the taxpayer and that he was informed of the subject tax assessments, gives rise to the conclusion that the accused is under no obligation to pay for the subject taxes,” the court said in its decision.
With Taulava's acquittal, the court also ordered that the cash bond he had posted worth P24,000 be cancelled and returned to him.