MANILA — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla on Thursday expressed doubt on the amount of actual taxes due from the Marcos estate.
Without citing any particular figure, Remulla told a gathering of Rotary Club Manila members that there was something wrong with the way the Marcos estate taxes were computed.
"First of all, if you look at the figures, they seem improbable. Figures were computed based on a biased computation. I don't think that it's proper for us to compute the figures the way they were computed," he said.
A 1997 Supreme Court ruling found the Marcos estate liable for P23 billion in estate taxes based on a 1991 Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) assessment for failure to file estate tax returns and pay estate taxes since Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.'s death in Hawaii in 1989.
Lawyers who challenged Marcos’ presidential run claimed the total liability has reached around P203 billion because of the imposition of interest, surcharges and penalties due to nonpayment for around 3 decades now.
Remulla did not explain how the computation was "biased" or "improbable."
Instead, he claimed that there might not even be basis to hold the Marcoses liable for estate taxes, saying they shouldn't be charged taxes on assets that the government already sequestered.
"Assets that were never passed on to the heirs were being taxed a charge of estate tax. So from the very beginning, I think the premises were ridiculous. Hopefully...I can be proven wrong by what I am saying but that is what I surmise," he said.
"You pay taxes on something that you get not something you do not get. So you should be charged for something that you got but not what you do not get," he added.
But the 1997 SC ruling made clear that the P23 billion assessment issued by the BIR against the Marcos estate had long become “final and unappealable” because Marcos did not file an administrative protest within 30 days to question the 1991 BIR assessment.
"The burden of proof is upon the complaining party to show clearly that the assessment is erroneous. Failure to present proof of error in the assessment will justify the judicial affirmance of said assessment," the high court said, pointing out that the Marcos did not point to any falsity in the memorandum of special audit of the BIR.
"The subject tax assessments having become final, executory and enforceable, the same can no longer be contested by means of a disguised protest," it added.
BIR Commissioner Lilia Guillermo earlier told ANC she still needs to study the BIR documents on the Marcos estate tax but promised to ask the President to be a "role model" should she find the Marcos estate liable.
The BIR and the Department of Finance have earlier confirmed sending a demand letter to the Marcos family to settle the estate taxes due.