Tax expert urges Marcos Jr. to pay family's P203-B estate tax dues

Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2022 04:40 PM | Updated as of Mar 29 2022 05:46 PM

Presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. addresses the crowd during the “UniTeam” grand rally held at the WES Arena in Punturin, Valenzuela City on February 10, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file
Presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. addresses the crowd during the “UniTeam” grand rally held at the WES Arena in Punturin, Valenzuela City on February 10, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file


MANILA — A tax expert on Tuesday urged former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to pay his family’s P203-billion estate tax dues, especially that he is running for the country’s highest post.

In an ABS-CBN TeleRadyo interview, former Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP) president Atty. Benedict Tugonon said Marcos Jr. should address the said unpaid taxes as a show of “leadership by example.”

“’Ika nga, leadership by example, so ako, I am really hoping that he would pay the tax to show the people na ehemplo siya ng isang mabuting taxpayer… Kung ako siguro magiging adviser ni Mr. Marcos tungkol diyan, ang sasabihin ko sa kanya, kailangan bayaran,” Tugonon said.

(They often say ‘leadership by example,’ so I am really hoping that would pay the tax to show the people that he is an example of a good taxpayer. If I were Mr. Marcos’ adviser on that, I would tell him to pay the tax dues.)

In April 2016, TMAP conducted a survey on national candidates’ opinions on the Philippines’ tax policy. In the said survey, Marcos Jr. said that he doesn’t agree with the abolition of estate tax.

“Some countries have already abolished or at least temporarily suspended the imposition of estate tax, which is imposed on the assets of a deceased individual upon death. Would you consider the abolition of estate tax in the Philippines?” one of the survey questions read.

Marcos Jr., who was then running for the vice presidency, answered “No.”

Reacting to this, Tugonon said: “Naniniwala po siya na ipagpatuloy pa rin yung imposition ng estate tax kasi nakikita siguro ng pamahalaan natin na ito ay isang good source of taxes. And siguro, inisip niya yun, at baka ganoon pa rin ang pananaw niya, na kung siya ay mahalal, maiwan ‘yang estate tax.”

(He believes that the imposition of estate tax must continue because our government probably sees it as a good source of taxes. And he must have thought of that then, and he must still believe in it now… That if he gets elected president, estate tax should still be imposed.)

Tugonon also noted that based on his experience as a tax lawyer, people refusing to pay estate taxes are “rare,” because others would normally comply with the said tax dues to obtain their inherited assets.

“Bihira po talaga ‘yung mga taong ayaw magbayad ng estate tax… ‘Yung pangkaraniwang tao, gagawa ng paraan na makapagbayad. Kasi gustong-gusto ng mga ordinaryong citizens na makuha ‘yung mana nila… Bihira akong makakita noon na kinakailangan pa ng BIR na ihabla ‘yung estate,” he added.

(People refusing to pay estate taxes are very rare. Ordinary people would look for ways to pay because they want to get their inheritances. I rarely saw instances of BIR having to file a lawsuit against an estate.)

On December 2021, the BIR sent a demand letter to the Marcoses to pay their estate tax dues which ballooned from about P23 billion in 1997 to P203 billion at present. 

“Bakit hindi naman natin babayaran yan (estate tax)? Obligasyon yan sa batas, at saka kung ikaw naman yung heredero, hindi mo naman binibili yan... Tatanggapin mo yan, libre. So ano ba naman yung kaltasan ka nang kaunti sa ari-ariang tatanggapin mo?” Tugonon said.

(Why would we not pay that? That is our obligation under the law, and if you are the heir, you didn’t buy that. You are getting your inheritance for free. So would it hurt if a small amount of your inherited assets would be deducted?)

On Monday, former Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) commissioner Ruben Carranza said the BIR should press criminal charges against the Marcoses for their unpaid estate taxes. 

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