Supreme Court upholds tax convictions of celebrity doctor Joel Mendez

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2023 04:41 PM

MANILA — The Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction of celebrity doctor Joel Mendez handed by the Court of Tax Appeals in his two tax cases in 2002 and 2003.
In 2011, the CTA found Mendez guilty of violating the National Internal Revenue Code for failing to file his income tax return for 2002 in the estimated amount of P1.522 million.
Mendez was also found guilty of failing to supply correct and accurate information in his income tax return in 2003 in the estimated amount of P2.107 million.
In his defense, Mendez testified before the CTA that he did not personally receive the Letter of Assessment of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and that his accountant deliberately concealed the notices from him.
“We are convinced that Joel was aware of his obligation to file ITR and he consciously and voluntarily refused to comply with his duty to make the return,” the Supreme Court said in the en banc decision promulgated on March 28, 2023 penned by Associate Justice Mario Lopez.
The court noted that the prosecution proved that Mendez spent a large amount of money on rentals, advertisements, purchases of vehicles and foreign travels in 2002.
“Joel’s failure to account for the source of his expenditures leads us to conclude that the monies spent were derived from undisclosed income from the operation of his business and the practice of his profession in 2002,” the court said.
The Supreme Court also upheld the sentence imposed by the CTA of imprisonment of one to two years with a fine of P10,000.
The SC directed the CTA to determine Mendez’s civil liability for taxes and penalties.
In the decision, the SC held that an assessment for deficiency taxes is not a prerequisite for the collection of a taxpayer’s civil liability for unpaid taxes in the criminal prosecution of tax law violations.
The Supreme Court said that since the prosecution filed a criminal case for tax violation against Mendez, the civil action for collection of deficiency taxes is deemed instituted.
“Thus, a formal assessment issued by the CIR (Commissioner of Internal Revenue) is not required for the imposition of civil liability for unpaid taxes,” the Supreme Court said.