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Adamson vs. Court of Appeals (2009) The Court of Appeals reversed the RTC's decision and reinstated the criminal
complaints. The CA held that, in a criminal prosecution for tax evasion, assessment
G.R. No. 120935 | 2009-05-21
of tax deficiency is not required because the offense of tax evasion is complete or
consummated when the offender has knowingly and willfully filed a fraudulent
return with intent to evade the tax.
Subject: Tax assessment; Complaint affidavit filed with the DOJ cannot be
considered a tax assessment; Criminal complaint for tax evasion does not require a
G.R. No. 124557
prior tax assessment; The recommendation letter of the Commissioner cannot be
considered a formal assessment; CTA has no jurisdiction since there is not even an
Petitioners filed a letter request for re-investigation with the Commissioner of the
assessment yet;
"Examiner's Findings" earlier issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which
pointed out the tax deficiencies. Before the Commissioner could act on their letter-
request, AMC and petitioners filed a Petition for Review with the CTA assailing the
Commissioner's finding of tax evasion against them. The Commissioner moved to
On June 20, 1990, Lucas Adamson and Adamson Management Corporation (AMC)
dismiss the petition, on the ground that it was premature, as she had not yet issued
sold 131,897 common shares of stock in Adamson and Adamson, Inc. (AAI) to APAC
a formal assessment of the tax liability of therein petitioners.
Holding Limited (APAC). The shares were valued at P7,789,995.00. Capital gains tax
of P159,363.21 was paid as for the transaction.
The CTA denied the Motion to Dismiss. It considered the criminal complaint filed by
the Commissioner with the DOJ as an implied formal assessment, and the filing of
On October 12, 1990, AMC sold to APAC Philippines, Inc. another 229,870 of AAI
the criminal informations with the RTC as a denial of petitioners' protest regarding
common shares for P17,718,360.00. AMC paid the capital gains tax of P352,242.96.
the tax deficiency.
On October 15, 1993, the BIR Commissioner issued a "Notice of Taxpayer" to AMC,
The Court of Appeals sustained the CTA's denial of the Motion to Dismiss.
Lucas Adamson, Therese Adamson and Sara de los Reyes (petitioners), in their
respective capacities as president, treasurer and secretary of AMC, informing them
of deficiencies on their payment of capital gains tax (CGT) and Value Added Tax
(VAT). The notice contained a schedule for preliminary conference.
(1) Whether the Commissioner has already rendered an assessment (formal or
otherwise) of the tax liability of AMC and petitioners
G.R. No. 120935
(2) Whether the criminal cases for tax evasion can proceed against AMC and
petitioners despite the alleged lack of a formal assessment
On October 22, 1993, the Commissioner filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ)
(3) Whether the CTA has jurisdiction to take cognizance of both the civil and the
an Affidavit of Complaint against AMC and petitioners for violation of Sections 45
criminal aspects of the tax liability of AMC and petitioners
(a) and (d) and 110 of NIRC in relation to the filing of false or fraudulent returns.
After the preliminary investigation, the State Prosecutor found probable cause and
petitioners were charged with criminal cases for tax evasion before the Makati RTC.
Tax assessment
They filed a Motion to Dismiss or Suspend the Proceedings. Petitioners argued that
there was yet no final assessment of their tax liability, and there were still pending
1. An assessment informs the taxpayer that he or she has tax liabilities. But not all
relevant Supreme Court and CTA cases. The RTC granted the Motion. It ruled that
documents coming from the BIR containing a computation of the tax liability can be
the complaints for tax evasion should be regarded as a decision of the
deemed assessments. An assessment contains not only a computation of tax
Commissioner regarding the tax liabilities of petitioners and, thus, appealable to the
liabilities, but also a demand for payment within a prescribed period. It also signals
CTA. It further held that the said cases cannot proceed independently of the
the time when penalties and interests begin to accrue against the taxpayer. To
assessment case pending before the CTA.
enable the taxpayer to determine his remedies thereon, due process requires that

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it must be served on and received by the taxpayer. Indeed, an assessment is and defeat the tax. The perpetration of the crime is grounded upon knowledge on
deemed made only when the collector of internal revenue releases, mails or sends the part of the taxpayer that he has made an inaccurate return, and the
such notice to the taxpayer. government's failure to discover the error and promptly to assess has no
connections with the commission of the crime. (Ungab v. Cusi)
Complaint affidavit filed with the DOJ cannot be considered a tax assessment
8. Section 222, NIRC states that an assessment is not necessary before a criminal
2. Accordingly, an affidavit, which was executed by revenue officers stating the tax charge can be filed. This is the general rule. Adamson et al. failed to show that they
liabilities of a taxpayer and attached to a criminal complaint for tax evasion, cannot are entitled to an exception. Moreover, the criminal charge need only be supported
be deemed an assessment that can be questioned before the Court of Tax Appeals. by a prima facie showing of failure to file a required return. This fact need not be
(CIR v. Pascor Realty) proven by an assessment.

3. In the present case, the revenue officers' Affidavit merely contained a 9. When fraudulent tax returns are involved as in the cases at bar, a proceeding in
computation of respondents' tax liability. It did not state a demand or a period for court after the collection of such tax may be begun without assessment. Here,
payment. Worse, it was addressed to the justice secretary, not to the taxpayers. Adamson et al. had already filed the CGT return and the VAT returns, and paid the
taxes they have declared due therefrom. Upon investigation of the examiners of the
4. That the BIR examiners' Joint Affidavit attached to the Criminal Complaint BIR, there was a preliminary finding of gross discrepancy in the computation of the
contained some details of the tax liabilities of private respondents does not ipso capital gains taxes due from the sale of two lots of AAI shares, first to APAC and
facto make it an assessment. The purpose of the Joint Affidavit was merely to then to APAC Philippines, Limited. The examiners also found that the VAT had not
support and substantiate the Criminal Complaint for tax evasion. Clearly, it was not been paid for VAT-liable sale of services for the third and fourth quarters of 1990.
meant to be a notice of the tax due and a demand to the private respondents for Arguably, the gross disparity in the taxes due and the amounts actually declared by
payment thereof. the private respondents constitutes badges of fraud.

Criminal complaint for tax evasion does not require a prior tax assessment 10. The issuance of an assessment must be distinguished from the filing of a
complaint. Before an assessment is issued, there is, by practice, a pre-assessment
5. Adamson et al. maintain that the filing of a criminal complaint must be preceded notice (PAN) sent to the taxpayer. The taxpayer is then given a chance to submit
by an assessment. This is incorrect, because Section 222 of the NIRC specifically position papers and documents to prove that the assessment is unwarranted. If the
states that in cases where a false or fraudulent return is submitted or in cases of commissioner is unsatisfied, an assessment signed by him or her is then sent to the
failure to file a return such as this case, proceedings in court may be commenced taxpayer informing the latter specifically and clearly that an assessment has been
without an assessment. Furthermore, Section 205 of the same Code clearly made against him or her. In contrast, the criminal charge need not go through all
mandates that the civil and criminal aspects of the case may be pursued these. The criminal charge is filed directly with the DOJ. Thereafter, the taxpayer is
simultaneously. notified that a criminal case had been filed against him, not that the commissioner
has issued an assessment. It must be stressed that a criminal complaint is instituted
6. In Ungab v. Cusi, petitioner therein sought the dismissal of the criminal not to demand payment, but to penalize the taxpayer for violation of the Tax Code.
Complaints for being premature, since his protest to the CTA had not yet been
resolved. The Court held that such protests could not stop or suspend the criminal The recommendation letter of the Commissioner cannot be considered a formal
action which was independent of the resolution of the protest in the CTA. This was assessment
because the CIR had, in such tax evasion cases, discretion on whether to issue an
assessment or to file a criminal case against the taxpayer or to do both. 11. In the context in which it is used in the NIRC, an assessment is a written notice
and demand made by the BIR on the taxpayer for the settlement of a due tax
7. An assessment of a deficiency is not necessary to a criminal prosecution for liability that is there definitely set and fixed. A written communication containing a
willful attempt to defeat and evade the income tax. A crime is complete when the computation by a revenue officer of the tax liability of a taxpayer and giving him an
violator has knowingly and willfully filed a fraudulent return, with intent to evade opportunity to contest or disprove the BIR examiner's findings is not an assessment

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since it is yet indefinite.

12. The Commissioner admits that she wrote a recommendation letter addressed
to the Secretary of the DOJ recommending the filing of criminal complaints against
AMC and the aforecited persons for fraudulent returns and tax evasion. The
recommendation letter of the Commissioner cannot be considered a formal

(i) It was not addressed to the taxpayers.

(ii) There was no demand made on the taxpayers to pay the tax liability, nor a
period for payment set therein.
(iii) The letter was never mailed or sent to the taxpayers by the Commissioner.

13. In fine, the said recommendation letter served merely as the prima facie basis
for filing criminal informations that the taxpayers had violated Section 45 (a) and
(d), and 110, in relation to Section 100, as penalized under Section 255, and for
violation of Section 253, in relation to Section 252 9(b) and (d) of the Tax Code.

CTA has no jurisdiction since there is not even an assessment yet

14. Under Republic Act No. 1125 (An Act Creating the Court of Tax Appeals) as
amended, the rulings of the Commissioner are appealable to the CTA. Republic Act
No. 8424 later expanded the jurisdiction of the Commissioner and, correspondingly,
that of the CTA. The latest statute dealing with the jurisdiction of the CTA is
Republic Act No. 9282.

15. These laws have expanded the jurisdiction of the CTA. However, they did not
change thejurisdiction of the CTA to entertain an appeal only from a final decision
or assessment of the Commissioner, or in cases where the Commissioner has not
acted within the period prescribed by the NIRC. In the cases at bar,
the Commissioner has not issued an assessment of the tax liability of private

16. The doctrines laid down in CIR v. Union Shipping Co. and Yabes v. Flojo are not
applicable to the cases at bar. In these earlier cases, the Commissioner already
rendered an assessment of the tax liabilities of the delinquent taxpayers, for which
reason the Court ruled that the filing of the civil suit for collection of the taxes due
was a final denial of the taxpayers' request for reconsideration of the tax

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