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TAX REMEDIES(Issuance of Preliminary Assessment Notice)

COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE,


- versus -

METRO STAR SUPERAMA, INC.,


G.R. No. 185371

December 8, 2010

FACTS: Petitioner is a domestic corporation.


On January 26, 2001, the Regional Director of
Revenue in Legazpi City, issued Letter of Authority to
examine petitioners books of accounts and other
accounting records for taxable year 1999.
For petitioners failure to comply with several
requests to present the records and Subpoena Duces
Tecum, BIR Legal Division issued an Indorsement to
proceed with the investigation based on the best
evidence obtainable preparatory to the issuance of
assessment notice.
Then, RDO issued a Preliminary Assessment
Notice Letter stating a deficiency in VAT and
withholding taxes in the amount of P292, 874.16 for
the year 1999. Thereafter, a formal letter of demand
was sent. The Final Notice of Seizure came next, giving
Metro Star Superama last opportunity to settle its
deficiency tax liabilities within ten (10) days from
receipt thereof, otherwise BIR shall be constrained to
serve and execute the Warrants of Distraint and/or
Levy and Garnishment to enforce collection.

Not able to comply, Metro Super Rama received


a Warrant of Distraint and/or Levy demanding payment
of deficiency value-added tax and withholding tax
payment in the amount of P292,874.16.
The Commissioner denied the MOR filed by
Metro Super Rama.
Denying that it received a Preliminary
Assessment Notice (PAN) and claiming that it was not
accorded due process, Metro Star filed a petition for
review with the CTA.
The CTA-Second Division rendered a decision in
favor of the Metro Super Rama.
The CTA-Second Division opined that while
there is a disputable presumption that a mailed letter
is deemed received by the addressee in the ordinary
course of mail, a direct denial of the receipt of mail
shifts the burden upon the party favored by the
presumption to prove that the mailed letter was
indeed received by the addressee.
It found that there was no clear showing that
Metro Star actually received the alleged PAN. It,
accordingly, ruled that the Formal Letter of Demand
and the Warrant of Distraint and/or Levy dated were
void, as Metro Star was denied due process.
CTA En Banc affirmed in toto the CTA Second
Divisions decision. Hence, this petition.

REPORTED BY: CLAVEL A. TUASON, TAXATION LAW REVIEW

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TAX REMEDIES(Issuance of Preliminary Assessment Notice)


ISSUE: Is the failure to strictly comply with
notice requirements prescribed under Section 228 of
the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997
tantamount to a denial of due process?
HELD: YES, not complying strictly with the
Preliminary Assessment Notice or PAN is tantamount to
a denial of due process.
The Court agrees with the CTA that the CIR
failed to discharge its duty and present any evidence
to show that Metro Star indeed received the PAN dated
January 16, 2002. It could have simply presented the
registry receipt or the certification from the postmaster
that it mailed the PAN, but failed. Neither did it offer
any explanation on why it failed to comply with the
requirement of service of the PAN. It merely accepted
the letter of Metro Stars chairman dated April 29,
2002, that stated that he had received the FAN dated
April 3, 2002, but not the PAN.
Section 228 of the Tax Code clearly requires that
the taxpayer must first be informed that he is liable for
deficiency taxes through the sending of a PAN. He
must be informed of the facts and the law upon which
the assessment is made. The law imposes a
substantive, not merely a formal, requirement. To
proceed heedlessly with tax collection without first
establishing a valid assessment is evidently violative
of
the
cardinal
principle
in
administrative
investigations - that taxpayers should be able to
present their case and adduce supporting evidence.

3.1.2 Preliminary Assessment Notice (PAN). If


after review and evaluation by the Assessment
Division or by the Commissioner or his duly authorized
representative, as the case may be, it is determined
that there exists sufficient basis to assess the taxpayer
for any deficiency tax or taxes, the said Office shall
issue to the taxpayer, at least by registered mail, a
Preliminary Assessment Notice (PAN) for the proposed
assessment, showing in detail, the facts and the law,
rules and. If the taxpayer fails to respond within fifteen
(15) days from date of receipt of the PAN, he shall be
considered in default, in which case, a formal letter of
demand and assessment notice shall be caused to be
issued by the said Office, calling for payment of the
taxpayer's deficiency tax liability, inclusive of the
applicable penalties. From the provision quoted above,
it is clear that the sending of a PAN to taxpayer to
inform him of the assessment made is but part of the
due process requirement in the issuance of a
deficiency tax assessment, the absence of which
renders nugatory any assessment made by the tax
authorities. The use of the word shall in subsection
3.1.2 describes the mandatory nature of the service of
a PAN. The persuasiveness of the right to due process
reaches both substantial and procedural rights and the
failure of the CIR to strictly comply with the
requirements laid down by law and its own rules is a
denial of Metro Stars right to due process.[15] Thus,
for its failure to send the PAN stating the facts and the
law on which the assessment was made as required by

REPORTED BY: CLAVEL A. TUASON, TAXATION LAW REVIEW

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TAX REMEDIES(Issuance of Preliminary Assessment Notice)


Section 228 of R.A. No. 8424, the assessment made by
the CIR is void.
It is an elementary rule enshrined in the 1987
Constitution that no person shall be deprived of
property without due process of law. In balancing the
scales between the power of the State to tax and its
inherent right to prosecute perceived transgressors of
the law on one side, and the constitutional rights of a

citizen to due process of law and the equal protection


of the laws on the other, the scales must tilt in favor of
the individual, for a citizens right is amply protected
by the Bill of Rights under the Constitution. Thus, while
taxes are the lifeblood of the government, the power
to tax has its limits, in spite of all its plenitude.
RULING: WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.

REPORTED BY: CLAVEL A. TUASON, TAXATION LAW REVIEW

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