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Manny Pacquiao, the BIR, and taxation's power to destroy

By: Mel Sta. Maria, News5 November 28, 2013 10:34 AM

InterAksyon.com The online news portal of TV5 Atty. Mel Sta. Maria is the resident legal analyst of TV5. He teaches at the Ateneo School of Law, and co-hosts the daily program 'Relayson' on Radyo Singko 92.3 News FM. Tax is the "lifeblood of the government." But if the power to tax is exercised wrongly, whether intentionally or negligently, it can, as former US Chief Justice John Marshall said, "involve the power to destroy." This "power to destroy", as further explained by well-known author Clarence B. Carson, "can defeat and render useless the power of individuals to create and preserve what they have created." In the hands of any power-tripping official, the power to collect taxes can be a terrible governmental weapon to cripple a taxpayer, to force a conscientious citizen-objector to submission and indeed to destroy his/her life. The official can even use the law for this abusive purpose. For example, normally, when a person is imminently to be injured or damaged, that person can go to court to seek a temporary restraining order (TRO) or an injunction against the concerned public official. However, this does not apply to collection of taxes. Section 218 of the National Internal Revenue Code provides that "no court shall have the authority to grant an injunction to restrain the collection of national internal revenue tax, fee or charge imposed by the code."

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and regardless of whether the justification given is legitimate or conjured. proportionate to the claimed inadequate submission? Should this procedural lapse. Government officials can perform their duties without pointlessly being arrogant. if it is later found out that indeed there was a wrong collection. whether true or merely perceived. and the only administrative matter left was the production and submission of the necessary documents for this purpose." Manny Pacquiao laments that after all that he went through . manager. debts. every cent counts. sweat and tears. Alluding to the PDAF and DAP controversies. without court intervention. credits. to "seize and distraint any goods. you can seek reimbursement but. Also. is this not injustice? Legal procedures are meant to help an individual right a mistake or an inadequacy. And the government has a corresponding right to exact that obligation. before going to court. The least government officials can do in collecting taxes is to be sensitive to the feelings of taxpayers. could have been life threatening. the government takes some or most of it. and interests in and rights to personal property of such persons" for payment of taxes. if not a miscarriage of justice.which committed the injustice. The government timing was so bad it smacks of malice and harassment. GR No. was garnishment of his money. inadequacy be enough to withhold the property of a person depriving him of its productive use? Is this not relying too much on technicalities rather than substance? If Manny paid and he is made to pay again due to a mere infraction of a procedure. Manny should pay the right taxes. That is his obligation. Padilla. our Supreme Court had said: "It is a far better and more prudent course of action for the court to excuse a technical lapse … to attain the ends of justice rather than dispose of the case on technicality and cause a grave injustice to the parties. but Section 207 of the National Internal Revenue Code powerfully authorizes the BIR Commisioner. And for the citizens. and if Manny submitted proofs which the BIR considered inadequate according to its assessment and protest procedures.So if you were assessed the wrong tax and the BIR wanted to collect it. 160753 June 28. Manny frustratingly commented thieves are better treated. 2005) 2 . mistake. you must first claim a refund from the very office . treasurer or other responsible officer of the bank. in reality.the BIR . usually. or distraint of his property. chattels or effects. But if Manny indeed already paid the taxes pursuant to the Tax-Treaty between the Philippine and US governments against double taxation. To be sure. Without contributing to the taxpayers' creation of hardearned wealth.not being with his family for a long time in preparation for an international boxing event which the Filipino people longed to see and suffering many physical inflictions that. People work so hard for their money in order to survive. and then ultimately giving to all of us that much needed momentary feeling of joy and hope after Yolanda . no one can stop the injustice. bank accounts." (Barnes vs. In fact. giving a false impression of speedy disposal of cases while actually resulting in more delay. depriving him of the productive use of the wealth he legitimately created and preserved with blood. including stocks and other securities. government can deprive the use of a person's property only through a court order. It cannot be used simply as a kind of menu where officials just determine what is missing in the list and then go for the jugular. and the personal property. Then.he gets a warrant of distraint and garnishment. Section 208 likewise provides that "bank accounts shall be garnished by serving a warrant of garnishment upon the taxpayer and upon the president.

In Manny's case. Instead of an adversarial approach. and not their tormentors. that is the kind of helpful service ALL citizens must expect from the BIR and which the BIR should and ought to extend to all without exceptions. the direction must be one of dedicated service to authentically help and assist people in their tax problems. 3 . the best thing to do was not for the government to be arrogantly adversarial to the taxpayer but for the government to have coordinated with the taxpayer so that it can help him procure the official and original documents from the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) of the United States of America. then that's the time notice of payment should be made. Difficult to undertake considering that there may be hundreds of problematic taxpayers? Well. This is basic and elementary due process.servants of the people. BIR officials just have to deal with that difficulty and provide that kind of helpful service. After all. the BIR determines that no taxes were paid or there was an inadequacy of payment. everything might have been solved. they are supposed to be public servants . Special treatment for Manny? Not at all. And if after examining these original documents. Had that been done. In fact.