'Settle this or else?': BIR urged to explain suspended Megaworld closure order

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2022 01:56 PM

MANILA - House Ways and Means Chairman Joey Salceda on Thursday said the Bureau of Internal Revenue should explain the suspended closure order for listed firm Megaworld Corp.

BIR on May 17 sent an advisory to the media on the supposed serving of a closure order for Megaworld. The order was suspended the same day after Megaworld said it "resolved" the issue with the tax bureau. 

The BIR did not disclose the documents required from the company which prompted it to issue a closure order.

“That was a bizarre series of events that leaves us with more questions than answers. Why was the order issued? Why was it cancelled if the order had already been issued? On what grounds can the BIR just do that to one of the largest firms in the country, that is listed publicly besides?” Salceda said.

“The exercise was so arbitrary, with a very strange scheduled press conference. And that does nothing for business confidence – that you can close a publicly listed corporation over an audit disagreement so drastically,” added the Albay second district representative. 

Megaworld said it had an earlier disagreement with a BIR revenue district office over jurisdiction. It said it has since been resolved.

The company led by billionaire Andrew Tan also said it has no unpaid tax liabilities.

Salceda said “tax authorities need to be more transparent.”

“One can’t avoid but think that it was a 'settle this or else' exercise on the part of BIR,” said the lawmaker. 

“Because it creates the impression that the BIR will twist your hand if you don’t agree with it – and businesses that are smaller than Megaworld will get the wrong signal. If they can do that to a big elephant, what can they do to smaller businesses?” he added.

Salceda said the BIR should also be cleared whether the Department of Finance knew of the incident.

To avoid conflict, there should be better tax rules for audit and transparency, he said. 

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