November 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Tax Law

Here are selected November 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on tax law:

Court of Tax Appeals; jurisdiction; other matters. The jurisdiction of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) over “other matters” is found in number 1 of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 1125, as amended. Under this provision, the CTA exercises exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal decisions of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue (CIR) in cases involving disputed assessments, refunds of internal revenue taxes, fees or other charges, penalties imposed in relation thereto, or other matters arising under the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) or other law as part of law administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). The term “other matters” is limited only by the qualifying phrase that follows it. The appellate jurisdiction of the CTA is not limited to cases which involve decisions of the CIR on matters relating to assessments or refunds. It covers other cases that arise out of the NIRC or related laws administered by the BIR. The issue of whether or not the BIR’s right to collect taxes had already prescribed is a subject matter falling under the NIRC. In connection therewith, the NIRC also states that the collection of taxes is one of the duties of the BIR. Thus, from the foregoing, the issue of prescription of the BIR’s right to collect taxes may be considered as covered by the term “other matters” over which the CTA has appellate jurisdiction. Commissioner of Internal Revenue vs Hambrecht & Quist Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 169225, November 17, 2010.

Court of Tax Appeals; petition for review with Court of Tax Appeals en banc; motion for reconsideration mandatory.   Rule 8, Section 1 of the Revised Rules of Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) requiring that “the petition for review of a decision or resolution of the Court in Division must be preceded by the filing of a timely motion for reconsideration or new trial with the Decision” is mandatory. The word “must” clearly indicate the mandatory- not merely directory- nature of a requirement. The rules are clear. Before the CTA En Banc could take cognizance of the petition for review concerning a case falling under its exclusive appellate jurisdiction, the litigant must sufficiently show that it sought prior reconsideration or moved for a new trial with the concerned CTA division. Procedural rules are not to be trifled with or be excused simply because their non-compliance may have resulted in prejudicing a party’s substantive rights. Rules are meant to be followed. They may be relaxed only for very exigent and persuasive reasons to relieve a litigant of an injustice not commensurate to his careless non-observance of the prescribed rules. Commissioner of Customs vs. Marina Sales, Inc., G.R. No. 183868, November 22, 2010.

Court of Tax Appeals; petition for certiorari; requisites. In order for a petition for certiorari to succeed, the following requisites must concur: (a) the writ is directed against a tribunal, a board, or any officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions, (b) such tribunal, board or officer has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and (c) there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. “Without jurisdiction” denotes that the tribunal, board or officer acted with absolute lack of authority. There is “excess of jurisdiction” when the public respondent exceeds its power or acts without any statutory authority. “Grave abuse of discretion” connotes such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as to be equivalent to lack or excess of jurisdiction; otherwise stated, power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion, prejudice, or personal hostility; and such exercise is so patent or so gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal either to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law. The grant or denial of a motion for postponement is addressed to the sound discretion of the court which should always be predicated on the consideration that more than the mere convenience of the courts or of the parties, the ends of justice and fairness should be served thereby. Furthermore, this discretion must be exercised intelligently. In this case, the taxpayer was given more than ample time to collate and gather its evidence. Accordingly, its right to due process was not transgressed.  Milwaukee Industries Corporation vs. Court of Tax Appeals and Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 173815, November 24, 2010.

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