MANILA – Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares on Wednesday challenged Sarangani congressman and boxing champion Manny Pacquiao to make public his 2009 income tax return (ITR) filed before the tax agency.
Henares issued the challenge after Pacquiao showed copies to media of his tax payments in 2008 and 2009, based on his US Non Resident Alien Income Tax Returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Henares took offense at Pacquiao’s gesture, saying the lawmaker is making it appear she is making baseless accusations.
“Alam niyo usapang legal ito, kaya gusto ko sabihin kay Mr. Pacquiao na ipakita niya ‘yung income tax return na finile niya noong 2009 sa BIR, tingin ko hihinto lahat ng usapan na ito…’Yun lang at matatahimik lahat ng usapin na ito kasi makikita niyo ano ang ginawa niya sa return niya,” Henares told dzMM.
“Ginagawa niya akong mukhang sinungaling. Siguro hindi naman ako magiging sinungaling kung ipakita niya lahat ng dokumento niya,” she added, without giving details of what she knows about the ITR in question.
Henares said that as early as 2010, she was surprised that Pacquiao only ranked 113th in the BIR list of top individual taxpayers for 2009 since he had been topping the annual list for the past years.
Pacquiao fought Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in 2009, earning a total of about $34 million for the two fights.
According to Henares, the documents that Pacquiao showed to the media on Wednesday were not included in his affidavit submitted to the BIR in 2011, when he was issued a subpoena to provide proof of taxes paid.
Henares also said she is “very disappointed” with the criticism she is getting from Pacquiao’s camp.
“I’m very disappointed because what I’m doing is protecting the interest of the government at lahat ng tao dapat sumunod sa batas. Eh ‘di ba congressman siya? Siya dapat ang unang-unang susunod sa mga batas sa Pilipinas, at siya ang una dapat na makaintindi na kung may linabag siya na batas ay may consequence ‘yan,” she said.
The BIR is running after Pacquiao for back taxes in 2008 and 2009 allegedly amounting to P2.2 billion, including surcharges.
Henares said the BIR has been waiting for two years for Pacquiao’s camp to provide them certification from the IRS that Pacquiao did pay his taxes in the US.
'Get it yourself'
On Wednesday, Pacquiao’s promoter Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum said Henares should have asked the IRS for the document herself instead of putting the burden on Pacquiao.
“My question is why, this lady, as the head of the tax bureau in the Philippines, didn’t ask her counterpart in the United States for such a certificate?” Arum said.
But Henares fired back at Arum, saying she it is not part of her mandate to acquire documents for a taxpayer.
“Hindi naman ako ang humihingi ng deduction. Ako ay empleyado ng gobyerno, hindi ako empleyado ni Pacquiao, abogado niya dapat ang kumuha niyan,” she said.
Henares expressed frustration over the case, saying she is being treated “unfairly” by Pacquiao’s camp and the public.
“Sa usapang ito, simple lang naman ang nangyari. Ano ba ang income niya? Kung nagbayad siya sa Amerika pakita lang niya. Ano bang mahirap doon?” she said.
She also hit back at Pacquiao’s mother, Dionisia, who also criticized the BIR for garnishing her son’s accounts.
Henares said Pacquiao’s camp is arguing based on their emotions, since Pacquiao had just come from an inspiring victory against Brandon Rios in Macau.
“’Yung mga argument na ‘yan, argument with emotions, and that’s the unfairness of this whole thing. We’re just doing our job and we don’t care who that person is, they just have to pay the right taxes because the country needs those taxes kung hindi, ang mga mahihirap saan ba sila nagdedepende, ‘di ba sa gobyerno?” she said.
She added that the BIR’s decision to garnish Pacquiao’s accounts is final, and his lawyers should instead take the matter up with the Court of Tax Appeals.