Duterte at BIR: Go after unpaid property taxes

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte speaks with the people after holding a meeting with key government officials at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on March 29, 2022

Amid the controversy over the Marcos family’s unsettled estate tax debts, President Rodrigo Duterte reminded the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to fulfill its mandate and collect the estate tax owed.

In his “Talk to the People” recording released late Tuesday night, Duterte said the BIR should tackle unpaid taxes.

“Its taxation natin, ang gobyerno can only prod. Hindi naman kailangan ng recall in Malacañang. Nandiyan ‘yung BIR, so tanungin natin ‘yang BIR bakit hanggang ngayon hindi nakolekta ‘yung inheritance tax (Government can only prod. You don’t need to call Malacañang back. There’s the BIR, sp ask them why he hasn’t collected the property tax yet)?” Duterte said.

The president did not name from whom the estate tax should be collected, but the Ministry of Finance is pushing the BIR to collect unpaid estate taxes from the heirs of the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., who have reached about 203 billion pesos.

Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s camp has repeatedly rejected calls for his family to settle tax debts and said the case is still pending in court.

Marcos Jr. himself said there was “a lot of fake news” about his family’s supposed tax liabilities.

The BIR earlier said it sent a written letter to the Marcos family in December 2021 asking them to pay their tax liability.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, acting Palace spokesman Martin Andanar said Duterte’s remark applies to anyone who has not paid their inheritance tax.

“The president only reminded the BIR to act in accordance with its mandate, which is to collect taxes,” Andanar told reporters when asked if Duterte was referring to the Marcos family’s tax obligations.

“Hindi lang sa kung saisg politiko o personalidad. Aba dapat sa lahat ng hindi nagbabayad a habulin ng BIR sapagkat kailangan ng karagdagang pondo ang ating national government (Not just a certain politician or personality. BIR should prosecute anyone who does not pay their taxes because the national government needs additional funds),” he added.

The president has not personally endorsed Marcos’ candidacy although the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) bloc led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has endorsed the former senator, saying his platform is the most aligned with the development agenda of its chairman, Duterte.

On Wednesday, the BIR announced that it was pursuing the recovery of inheritance tax from Marcoses.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd told reporters the tax agency assured him it was collecting and demanding payment from administrators of Marcos’ estate.

“They didn’t pay,” he said.

The agency, Dominguez added, will continue to consolidate title in favor of the government to the properties that have been taken.

“Procedure may be time consuming as it involves selling at public auction to convert to cash. Ultimately, Marcos takes no action to settle and pay due to ongoing litigation,” the BIR said.

The tax agency explained that this means it will take action against properties that have been assessed.

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