If Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is really serious about his new mission as Bible Ambassador of the embattled Roman Catholic Church, then he should pay his taxes. Tax evasion cannot be considered a saintly act because it is cheating the Filipino people and depriving them of their rightful benefits.
BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) Director for Region 8, Atty. Rozil Lozares, hit the nail on the head when the taxman quoted from the Gospel what is a direct order from Jesus Christ to taxpaying citizens – “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Lozares was quoted in Filipino saying: “The Pharisees asked Jesus if the Jews should pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus picked up a coin and showed to the Pharisees the face of Caesar on the coin. It was then when Jesus said: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
It was Lozares who filed the charges against Pacquiao for failing to submit his tax records after noticing a big drop in Pacquiao’s tax payments. In an earlier interview on DZMM radio, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares had mentioned that Pacquiao’s tax payments dropped from P100 million in 2008 to only P7 million in 2009. Pacquiao would belong to the highest income tax bracket, persons with taxable income of P500,000 or more, where the tax due is P125,000 plus 32 percent of the excess of P500,000.
Pacquiao denied evading paying taxes to the Philippine government – claiming that he had already paid taxes to the US government for his fight revenues. Speaking in Filipino, Pacquiao was quoted by ABS-CBN.com: “My income for which taxes were paid to the US government can no longer be taxed here. They can only tax income that I made here.”
Still speaking in Filipino, Pacquiao added: “If I’m taxed in America and here also, that would be tantamount to double taxation. There’s a law about double taxation.”
Surprise, surprise, the author of EVAT, Senator Ralph Recto, immediately came to Pacquiao’s rescue, echoing the “double taxation” excuse of the boxer cum Bible Ambassador and Sarangani Representative. Recto is even making it appear that the BIR is picking on Pacquiao. That makes two Philippine lawmakers who do not know the law on double taxation.
During the March 17 Saturday afternoon program co-hosted by Jing Castaneda and Henry Omaga Diaz on DZMM, they had Atty. Jethro Sabariaga, the Chief of Staff of BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, as their guest for the program’s topic of the day – taxes. Upon your Chair Wrecker’s prodding by text message, Jing asked Sabariaga about Pacquiao’s claim of double taxation.
Sabariaga’s explanation clarified the issue and proved that there’s no case of double taxation because the tax that Pacquiao has paid the US government is deducted from the tax that he owes the Philippine government. If Pacquiao has a taxable income of P500 million (hypothetical), then he has to pay the Philippine government P125,000 plus P159,840,000 or 32 percent for the income in excess of P500,000 – a total tax due of P159,965,000. If he already paid the US government the equivalent of P50 million (hypothetical), then he will only have to pay our government P109,965,000 in taxes. This is in accordance with our treaty arrangement with the US, per Sabariaga.
Pacquiao shouldn’t be allowed to get away from this liability and its concomitant penalties if found guilty of tax evasion. He shouldn’t be allowed to blame his accountant or factotum – like the respondent in the Senate impeachment trial – for miscalculating his tax obligations.
As a lawmaker, Pacquiao is doubly obligated to pay his correct taxes to the Philippine government. As a lawmaker, he should know the law and follow the law. As a public official, Pacquiao has to set the right example. As a Filipino, Pacquiao should faithfully pay his taxes to the Philippine government and not use the US government as a tax shelter to escape paying bigger taxes here. As a Christian, he should pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s.
From where your Chair Wrecker sits, wrecking another chair, many Filipinos – with a lot of conditioning from our shallow and narrow-minded media – are prone to creating their own monsters. Many of our countrymen are easily mesmerized by a person’s celebrity, with a tendency of placing them on a pedestal that they don’t deserve. Many of our countrymen fail to see the evil some of these celebrities do as a result of fans’ misguided trust and hero worship.
In past columns where your Chair Wrecker challenged the questionable assertions and actions of Pacquiao, there would be a phalanx of angry reactors who cannot seem to see anything wrong with what Pacquiao has done or said. Per the late patriot, Professor Emmanuel Q. Yap, many Filipinos will blindly admire the celebrity and disregard that celebrity’s crimes and bad example.
In our February 19 (Pacquiao as “Bible Ambassador” sends wrong signals) column, your Chair Wrecker had warned the Catholic Church about making Pacquiao a “Bible Ambassador” simply because Pacquiao has too many controversies hounding him. Lo and behold, one Bishop even went as far as calling Pacquiao a “modern-day saint” recently.
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