Here are select July 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on tax law:
National Internal Revenue Code; excise tax; goods subject to excise tax; persons liable to pay. Excise taxes are imposed on two (2) kinds of goods, namely: (a) goods manufactured or produced in the Philippines for domestic sales or consumption or for any other disposition; and (b) things imported. With respect to the first kind of goods, Section 130 of the National Internal Revenue Code (the “Tax Code”) states that, unless otherwise specifically allowed, the taxpayer obligated to file the return and pay the excise taxes due thereon is the manufacturer/producer.On the other hand, with respect to the second kind of goods, Section 131 of the Tax Code states that the taxpayer obligated to file the return and pay the excise taxes due thereon is the owner or importer, unless the imported articles are exempt from excise taxes and the person found to be in possession of the same is other than those legally entitled to such tax exemption.While the Tax Code mandates the foregoing persons to pay the applicable excise taxes directly to the government, they may, however, shift the economic burden of such payments to someone else – usually the purchaser of the goods – since excise taxes are considered as a kind of indirect tax. Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 198759, July 1, 2013.
National Internal Revenue Code; excise tax; statutory taxpayer as proper party to seek refund; exception. Since excise taxes are considered as a kind of indirect tax, the statutory taxpayer can transfer to its customers the value of the excise taxes it paid or would be liable to pay to the government by treating it as part of the cost of the goods and tacking it on to the selling price. This notwithstanding, pursuant to Section 204(c) of the Tax Code, the proper party to question, or seek a refund of, excise tax is the statutory taxpayer, the person on whom the tax is imposed by law and who paid the same even if he shifts the burden thereof to another. Accordingly, in cases involving excise tax exemptions on petroleum products under Section 135 of the Tax Code, the Court has consistently held that it is the statutory taxpayer who is entitled to claim a tax refund based thereon and not the party who merely bears its economic burden. However, the abovementioned rule should not apply to instances where the law clearly grants the party to which the economic burden of the tax is shifted an exemption from both direct and indirect taxes. In which case, the latter must be allowed to claim a tax refund even if it is not considered as the statutory taxpayer under the law.Thus, the propriety of a tax refund claim is hinged on the kind of exemption which forms its basis. If the law confers an exemption from both direct or indirect taxes, a claimant is entitled to a tax refund even if it only bears the economic burden of the applicable tax. On the other hand, if the exemption conferred only applies to direct taxes, then the statutory taxpayer is regarded as the proper party to file the refund claim. Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 198759, July 1, 2013.