Marcos estate taxes don't disprove ill-gotten wealth: ex-BIR chief

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2022 10:48 AM | Updated as of Mar 22 2022 12:35 PM

Former President Ferdinand Marcos (center) poses with members of his family on January 15, 1986, namely: his wife Imelda; eldest daughter Imee and her husband at the time, Tomas Manotoc (right); youngest daughter Irene and her husband Greggy Araneta (left); son Bongbong (behind Marcos); and Marcos' grandchildren Luis (on his lap), Alfonso (Irene's lap) and Borgy (left), carried by Ferdinand and Imelda's adopted daughter, Aimee. Malacañang handout/AFP
Former President Ferdinand Marcos (center) poses with members of his family on January 15, 1986, namely: his wife Imelda; eldest daughter Imee and her husband at the time, Tomas Manotoc (right); youngest daughter Irene and her husband Greggy Araneta (left); son Bongbong (behind Marcos); and Marcos' grandchildren Luis (on his lap), Alfonso (Irene's lap) and Borgy (left), carried by Ferdinand and Imelda's adopted daughter, Aimee. Malacañang handout/AFP

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Bureau of Internal Revenue's demand for the Marcoses to pay their estate taxes is not proof that they do not have ill-gotten wealth, a former commissioner said Tuesday.

Taxation is "agnostic," according to Kim Henares, who served as BIR commissioner under former president Benigno Aquino III.

"All income is taxable no matter how you got it. In estate tax, as long as it’s in your name when you died and you own it, it’s taxable. We don’t really ask how you got it, as long as it’s in your name at the time of your death or it’s in your possession or you say it’s personal property. For excise tax it’s the same thing," she told ANC's Headstart.

In 1997, the Supreme Court affirmed a Court of Appeals ruling that declared the Marcoses’ estate to have a tax deficiency of P23 billion. 

The BIR has confirmed that it sent to the family of presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. a written demand to settle their estate tax liabilities. 

The younger Marcos was also convicted in 1995 for failing to file mandatory income tax returns from 1982 to 1985 when he was governor and vice governor of Ilocos Norte. 

When the Supreme Court decided with finality on the estate tax case, the Marcoses owed the state some P23.3 billion, Henares said. The Bureau of Internal Revenue has since attached 11 sets of properties and imposed interest, she added.

The obligation to pay the estate taxes falls on the executor, administrator or the legal heirs, Henares said.

"The executor or administrator cannot distribute the asset from the estate to anyone unless estate tax is paid. If you do that there are criminal liabilities for that," she said.
 
Properties sequestered by government are not included in estate taxation, according to the former BIR chief.

Even if Marcos properties were returned to them, it will be attached to their estate tax liabilities, she said.

"When it was sequestered, Marcos Sr was still alive. The ownership of those sequestered property moved to the government of the Philippines," she said.

"If it’s returned then that decision is final and executory, then there should be an amendatory, they should again supplement the estate tax return…before it is returned to the Marcoses the government can now attach those properties to satisfy the liability of P203 billion."

Henares also belied a claim by Marcos supporters that there was an agreement that government would not include properties under litigation in the estate tax liabilities.

"If there is such an agreement, it has been overturned by events. If there’s such an agreement the BIR would have filed an estate tax return for the Marcoses," she said.

"Basically...there’s no agreement. The mere fact it was filed and the BIR was demanding for payment basically said there’s no agreement or if there’s an agreement it has nothing to do with assets that are sequestered."

The Marcoses should have contested the amount of their estate tax liability when the high court came up with its decision, Henares said.

"They had 30 days I believe to have appealed it. If they have not, it’s now final and executory," she said.

The case of the Marcoses was covered by the first tax amnesty law with a deadline last June 14, 2021, according to Henares.

"Under that first tax amnesty law, if you have a final and executory deficiency assessment you can actually avail of the amnesty by paying 50 percent of the basic charges. Unfortunately that opportunity has passed," she said.

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