Solon warns loss of gov't revenues, not just jobs, if ABS-CBN franchise not renewed

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 02 2020 06:55 PM | Updated as of Jul 02 2020 09:19 PM

The Bureau of Internal Revenue's central office in Quezon City. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Thursday said ABS-CBN Corp. remitted P15.4 billion in various taxes from 2016-2019 making it one of the top taxpayers in the country. 

Simplicio Cabantac Jr, head of Large Tax Payers Audit Division 3 of the BIR, said ABS-CBN ranked 65th among the top corporate taxpayers in the Philippines. In 2017, the company was ranked 275th and 339th the following. 

Baguio Rep. Mark Go said that if Congress refused to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise, it would mean not just a loss of jobs for the company’s 11,000 employees, but also a loss of revenues that the government badly needs to respond to the pandemic.

“If and when Congress does not approve ABS-CBN franchise, this is what we’re gonna lose,” Go said. 

He said that with the economy expected to shrink this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress should be looking at preserving businesses and employment. 

“What we would like to do is to stimulate the economy and one way of stimulating it is by ensuring that those who are in the country doing business now, should continue, even strengthen their business,” Go said. 

Meantime, the BIR official also said on Thursday that even though it issued tax clearances to ABS-CBN for several years, companies can still be investigated for possible tax fraud. 

“There is still a possibility that we can conduct a second audit in cases of fraud,” Cabantac said in response to a question from Cavite Rep. Epidio Barzaga on the significance of clearances issued by the BIR to companies like ABS-CBN. 

Barzaga asked if a tax clearance meant that firms who have already been cleared of any allegations of tax fraud can be investigated again. 

“Pwede pong i-revisit yung audit at mag-conduct ng second audit,” Cabantac said.

On Wednesday, the BIR testified that ABS-CBN has been regularly filing and paying its taxes and has no tax delinquency.

ABS-CBN Group's Chief Financial Officer Ricardo Tan also belied on Monday allegations that the company has not been paying proper taxes.

The company said it has also submitted to Congress tax clearances issued to it by the BIR.

But Barzaga said this was not “conclusive.” 

“Kahit may tax clearance, it does not bar the government to conduct an investigation in the event that there will be fraud for the corporation in the year when the tax clearance was issued,” Barzaga said.

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