July 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Tax Law

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.

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January 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Tax Laws

National Internal Revenue Code; excise tax; proper party to seek a tax refund. Silkair (Singapore) is a foreign corporation licensed to do business in the Philippines as an on-line international carrier. It purchased aviation fuel from Petron and paid the excise taxes. It filed an administrative claim for refund for excise taxes on the purchase of jet fuel from Petron, which it alleged to have been erroneously paid. For indirect taxes, the proper party to question or seek a refund of the tax is the statutory taxpayer, the person on whom the tax is imposed by law and who paid the same even when he shifts the burden thereof to another. Thus, Petron, not Silkair, is the statutory taxpayer which is entitled to claim a refund. Excise tax is due from the manufacturers of the petroleum products and is paid upon removal of the products from their refineries. Even before the aviation jet fuel is purchased from Petron, the excise tax is already paid by Petron. Petron, being the manufacturer, is the “person subject to tax.” In this case, Petron, which paid the excise tax upon removal of the products from its Bataan refinery, is the “person liable for tax.” Petitioner is neither a “person liable for tax” nor “a person subject to tax.” Silkair (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 166482, January 25, 2012.

(Caren thanks Lui Manalaysay for assisting in the preparation of this post.)

January 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Tax Law

Here are selected January 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on tax law:

National Internal Revenue Code; section 76; option to carry-over excess income tax payments to succeeding taxable years; option irrevocable. Under section 76 of the National Internal Revenue Code (Tax Code) in case of overpayment of income taxes, a corporation may either file a claim for refund or carry-over the excess payments to the succeeding taxable year and the availment of one remedy precludes the other. However, unlike section 69 of the previous Tax Code, the carry-over of excess income tax payments is no longer limited to the succeeding taxable year but is carried over to the succeeding taxable year until fully utilized. Moreover, the option to carry-over excess income tax payments is not irrevocable. Hence; unutilized excess income tax payments may no longer be refunded. Belle Corporation vs Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 181298, January 10, 2011.

National Internal Revenue Code; value-added tax; claim for credit or refund of input value-added tax; requirements. In its section 112 (A), the National Internal Revenue Code sets down the following requirements in a claim for credit or refund of input value-added tax (VAT): (1) the taxpayer must be VAT registered, (2) the taxpayer must be engaged in sales which are zero-rated or effectively zero-rated, (3) the claim must be filed within two years after the close of the taxable quarter when such sales were made, and (4) the creditable input VAT due or paid must be attributable to such sales, except the transitional input VAT, to the extent that such input VAT has not been applied against the output VAT.  Silicon Philippines, Inc. (formerly Intel Philippines Manufacturing, Inc.) vs Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 172378, January 17, 2011.

National Internal Revenue Code; value-added tax; claim for credit or refund of input value-added tax; authority to print. The authority to print (ATP) need not be reflected or indicated in the invoices or receipts because there is no law or regulation requiring it. In the absence of such law or regulation, failure to print the ATP on the invoices or receipts should not result in the outright denial of a claim or the invalidation of the invoices or receipts for purposes of claiming a refund. However, section 238 of the National Internal Revenue Code (Tax Code) expressly requires persons engaged in business to secure an ATP from the Bureau of Internal Revenue prior to printing invoices or receipts. Under section 112 (A) of the Tax Code, a claimant must be engaged in sales which are zero-rated or effectively zero-rated. To prove this, duly registered invoices or receipts evidencing zero-rated sales must be presented. However, since the ATP is not indicated in the invoices or receipts, the only way to verify whether the invoices or receipts are duly registered is by requiring the claimant to present its ATP from the BIR. Without this proof, the invoices or receipts would have no probative value for the purpose of refund.  Silicon Philippines, Inc. (formerly Intel Philippines Manufacturing, Inc.) vs Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 172378, January 17, 2011.

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June 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Tax Law

Here are selected June 2010 decisions of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on tax law:

Court of Tax Appeals; factual findings final, binding and conclusive. The factual findings of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), a special court exercising expertise on the subject of tax, are generally regarded as final, binding and conclusive upon the Supreme Court, especially if these are substantially similar to the findings of the Court of Appeals (CA) which is normally the final arbiter of questions of fact. Miguel G. Osorio Pension Foundation, Incorporated vs Court of Appeals and Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 162175, June 28, 2010.

Court of Tax Appeals; factual findings final, binding and conclusive; exceptions. Recognized exceptions to the rule that the factual findings are final, binding and conclusive are: (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) when in makings its findings the CA went beyond the issues of the case; or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellee and the appellant; (7) when the findings are contrary to the trial court; (8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner’s main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record; or (11) when the CA manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion. Miguel G. Osorio Pension Foundation, Incorporated vs Court of Appeals and Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 162175, June 28, 2010.

Employees’ trust fund; no estoppel in favor of BIR. An employees’ trust fund is not estopped from proving its ownership over a lot held in trust by, and titled in the name of, another when the purpose is not to contest the disposition or encumbrance of the property in favor of an innocent third-party purchaser for value. The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), not being a buyer or claimant to any interest in the lot, has not relied on the fact of the title of the lot to acquire any interest in it. Thus, there is no basis for the BIR to claim that the trustee of employees’ trust fund is estopped from proving that it co-owns the lot.  Miguel G. Osorio Pension Foundation, Incorporated vs Court of Appeals and Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 162175, June 28, 2010.

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February 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Tax Law

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

Assessment; final decision. Records show that petitioner disputed the PAN but not the Formal Letter of Demand with Assessment Notices. Nevertheless, we cannot blame petitioner for not filing a protest against the Formal Letter of Demand with Assessment Notices since the language used and the tenor of the demand letter indicate that it is the final decision of the respondent on the matter. We have time and again reminded the CIR to indicate, in a clear and unequivocal language, whether his action on a disputed assessment constitutes his final determination thereon in order for the taxpayer concerned to determine when his or her right to appeal to the tax court accrues. Viewed in the light of the foregoing, respondent is now estopped from claiming that he did not intend the Formal Letter of Demand with Assessment Notices to be a final decision.  Allied Banking Corporation vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 175097, February 5, 2010.

Excise tax;  refund. The proper party to question, or claim a refund or tax credit of an indirect tax is the statutory taxpayer, which is Petron in this case, as it is the company on which the tax is imposed by law and which paid the same even if the burden thereof was shifted or passed on to another. It bears stressing that even if Petron shifted or passed on to petitioner Silkair, the burden of the tax, the additional amount which petitioner paid is not a tax but a part of the purchase price which it had to pay to obtain the goods.   Silkair (Singapore) PTE. Ltd. vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 184398, February 25, 2010.

Gross Philippine billings;  off line carrier. South African Airways, an off-line international carrier selling passage documents through an independent sales agent in the Philippines, is engaged in trade or business in the Philippines subject to the 32% income tax imposed by Section 28 (A)(1) of the 1997 NIRC.

The general rule is that resident foreign corporations shall be liable for a 32% income tax on their income from within the Philippines, except for resident foreign corporations that are international carriers that derive income “from carriage of persons, excess baggage, cargo and mail originating from the Philippines” which shall be taxed at 2 1/2% of their Gross Philippine Billings. Petitioner, being an international carrier with no flights originating from the Philippines, does not fall under the exception. As such, petitioner must fall under the general rule. This principle is embodied in the Latin maxim, exception firmat regulam in casibus non exceptis, which means, a thing not being excepted must be regarded as coming within the purview of the general rule.

To reiterate, the correct interpretation of the above provisions is that, if an international air carrier maintains flights to and from the Philippines, it shall be taxed at the rate of 2 1/2% of its Gross Philippine Billings, while international air carriers that do not have flights to and from the Philippines but nonetheless earn income from other activities in the country will be taxed at the rate of 32% of such income.  South African Airways vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, G.R. No. 180356, February 16, 2010.

Overseas communication tax; PAL.  Under its franchise, Philippine Airlines is exempt from the overseas communications tax.  Republic of the Philippines represented by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue vs. Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL), G.R. No. 179800, February 4, 2010.

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April 2009 Decisions on Commercial, Labor and Tax Laws

Here are selected April 2009 decisions of the Supreme Court on commercial, labor and tax laws:

Commercial Law

BOT;  public bidding. In a situation where there is no other competitive bid submitted for the BOT project, that project would be awarded to the original proponent thereof.  However, when there are competitive bids submitted, the original proponent must be able to match the most advantageous or lowest bid; only when it is able to do so will the original proponent enjoy the preferential right to the award of the project over the other bidder.  These are the general circumstances covered by Section 4-A of Republic Act No. 6957, as amended. In the instant case, AEDC may be the original proponent of the NAIA IPT III Project; however, the Pre-Qualification Bids and Awards Committee (PBAC) also found the People’s Air Cargo & Warehousing Co., Inc. Consortium (Paircargo), the predecessor of PIATCO, to be a qualified bidder for the project.  Upon consideration of the bid of Paircargo/PIATCO, the PBAC found the same to be far more advantageous than the original offer of AEDC.  It is already an established fact in Agan that AEDC failed to match the more advantageous proposal submitted by PIATCO by the time the 30-day working period expired on 28 November 1996; and since it did not exercise its right to match the most advantageous proposal within the prescribed period, it cannot assert its right to be awarded the project. Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp. vs. DOTC, et al./Republic of the Philippines etc. et al. vs. Hon. CA, et al., G.R. No. 169914/G.R. No. 174166,  April 7, 2009.

Dividends. Dividends are payable to the stockholders of record as of the date of the declaration of dividends or holders of record on a certain future date, as the case may be, unless the parties have agreed otherwise. A transfer of shares which is not recorded in the books of the corporation is valid only as between the parties; hence, the transferor has the right to dividends as against the corporation without notice of transfer but it serves as trustee of the real owner of the dividends, subject to the contract between the transferor and transferee as to who is entitled to receive the dividends. Imelda O. Cojuangco, Prime Holdings, Inc., and the Estate of Ramon U. Cojuangco vs. Sandiganbayan, Republic of the Philippines and the Sheriff of Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 183278, April 24, 2009.

Holdover. As a general rule, officers and directors of a corporation hold over after the expiration of their terms until such time as their successors are elected or appointed. Sec. 23 of the Corporation Code contains a provision to this effect. The holdover doctrine has, to be sure, a purpose which is at once legal as it is practical. It accords validity to what would otherwise be deemed as dubious corporate acts and gives continuity to a corporate enterprise in its relation to outsiders.

Authorities are almost unanimous that one who continues with the discharge of the functions of an office after the expiration of his or her legal term––no successor having, in the meantime, been appointed or chosen––is commonly regarded as a de factoofficer, even where no provision is made by law for his holding over and there is nothing to indicate the contrary. By fiction of law, the acts of such de facto officer are considered valid and effective. Dr. Hans Christian M. Señeres vs. Commission on Elections and Melquiades A. Robles, G.R. No. 178678, April 16, 2009.

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April 2009 Decisions on Constitutional and Related Laws

Here are selected April 2009 decisions of the Supreme Court on constitutional and related laws:

Constitutional Law

Administrative regulation; void. Executive Order No. 566, which grants the CHED the power to regulate review center, is unconstitutional as it expands Republic Act No. 7722,. The CHED’s coverage under RA 7722 is limited to public and private institutions of higher education and degree-granting programs in all public and private post-secondary educational institutions.  EO 566 directed the CHED to formulate a framework for the regulation of review centers and similar entities.    A review center is not an institution of higher learning as contemplated by RA 7722.  It does not offer a degree-granting program that would put it under the jurisdiction of the CHED. Review Center Associations of the Philippines vs. Executive Secretatry Eduardo Ermita, et al., G.R. No. 180046,  April 2, 2009.

Agrarian reform; coverage. For the parcels of land subject of this petition to come within the coverage of P.D. No. 27, it is necessary to determine whether the land is agricultural. Here, the subject parcels of land cannot be considered as within the ambit of P.D. No. 27 considering that the subject lots were reclassified by the DAR Secretary as suited for residential, commercial, industrial or other urban purposes way before petitioner filed a petition for emancipation under P.D. No. 27.  Laureano V. Hermoso, et al. vs. Heirs of Antonio Francia and Petra Francia, G.R. No. 166748,  April 24, 2009.

Compensation. Officers who in good faith have discharged the duties pertaining to their office are legally entitled to the compensation attached to the office for the services they actually rendered. Although the present petition must inevitably be dismissed on a technicality that serves as penalty for the pernicious practice of forum shopping, the Court nevertheless cannot countenance the refund of the compensation differential corresponding to petitioner’s tenure as HEDF head with the upgraded rank of Director III, since she had actually rendered services in the office with the elevated grade for that period.  Alicia D. Tagaro vs. Ester A. Garcia, etc.,G.R. No. 173931, April 2, 2009.

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