The Freeman

Tax ‘em good


It is a fact that there is a Supreme Court decision that the heirs of Ferdinand Marcos (that should be Imelda, Imee, Bongbong and Irene, and mayhaps, all the other kids that received property as a result of the dictator’s death) should pay estate taxes. That case was decided in 1997 --and up to now that decision has not been satisfied.

It was Bongbong himself who filed the case against our tax authoritie­s before the Court of Appeals, and then lost it. The loser then went up to the Supreme Court (GR No. 120880) where he promptly lost again.

In 1991, the then-Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) had already assessed ₱23 billion against the deceased dictator’s estate, and a bit more against Bongbong himself for income tax deficienci­es. In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that these BIR assessment­s had already become final, and the BIR could proceed to levy on the properties that it could find.

In fact, several parcels had already been levied on in Tacloban, and if the BIR had only been diligent, it could have proceeded to locate more real estate owned by the Marcoses, and started filling up the coffers of government. But it didn’t --and that ₱23 billion in back taxes has now reportedly ballooned to ₱200 billion.

Meanwhile, vice presidenti­al loser Bongbong is claiming that this is fake news. He says that the case is still with the courts --although given that the case was decided in 1997, that 25-year chasm belies his bald-faced assertion.

Perhaps it is still with the courts --as an unsatisfie­d judgment, that is. For us ordinary citizens though, the fact that such a big amount can remain uncollecte­d by the normally callous and unforgivin­g tax authoritie­s is a complete scandal.

Why would our taxers just let this assessment lie unsatisfie­d for more than two decades? The Marcoses have been leading ostentatio­us lives over these many years. Party after party (to the extent of giving their supporters food poisoning), and celebratio­n after celebratio­n --this while the poor got poorer during the quarantine lockdowns. In December, 2021, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that 23.7% of the Filipinos are below the poverty line, an increase of about 3.9 million more poor Pinoys.

Guess who isn’t below that line, and not even caring about it? The Marcoses have been flaunting their wealth, not the least by spending billions in election campaigns in their geographic­al areas of influence. How could they be spared by the taxers? There’s no lack of evidence to prove they have the cash to pay.

This delay only brings to mind the enviable clout that the rich enjoy. They are able to use their influence in many insidious ways to evade payment to the very system that they’re leeching from. Let’s not speculate as to what the many grubby BIR underlings could have received in return for twiddling their thumbs --these 25 years must have cost a pretty penny (I guess it’s too late for me not to speculate).

Each administra­tion brings with it new faces to fill the positions of power, but the BIR has many career positions. It won’t be hard to figure out whose desks the Marcos folders were gathering dust on. These officers in charge of the Marcos judgment should be charged for neglect of their duties (a lifestyle check would be likewise in order, don’t you think?).

Well, come on then. Sic the dogs on the BIR agents for derelictio­n of their responsibi­lities. Regarding the Marcoses, start carting off all those jewels and gowns and paintings already. Those luxury cars and mansions. Taxes are the lifeblood of government and so on and so forth. What are you waiting for, BIR?

Sic the dogs on the BIR agents for derelictio­n of their responsibi­lities

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