Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tax task force spent P70M to collect P11M

<DIV><FONT face=Arial size=2><FONT size=3><FONT face="Times New Roman"><SPAN class=fontheadline>Tax task force spent P70M to collect P11M </SPAN><BR><BR>By Nelson F. Flores, Inquirer News Service </FONT></FONT><BR><BR><SPAN class=fonttext>A PRESIDENTIAL task force investigating tax credit scams has spent P70 million in the last five years but only managed to recover P11 million of the more than P5.3 billion that tax evaders were believed to have gotten away with. <P>And nobody has been sent to jail.</P> <P>"This is how serious the government is in running after tax evaders," Renato Reyes, secretary general of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), said at a press conference Tuesday.</P> <P>Reyes, citing a report by lawyer Jose Isagani Torres, said members of Presidential Task Force 156 from the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs and other government agencies who are assigned to investigate and prosecute tax credit scams, should make a full report and accounting of their work.</P> <P>Torres is the lawyer of Felix Chingkoe, who blew the whistle on the tax credit scam allegedly perpetrated by his brother Faustino.</P> <P>Deposed President Joseph Estrada created Task Force 156 in 1999 to investigate and prosecute<!-- saved from url=(0022)http://internet.e-mail --> those involved in tax credit scams, including Department of Finance and other government personnel and their accomplices.</P> <P>The task force is composed of the executive secretary as chair with the finance and justice undersecretaries, the executive director of the One-Stop Shop Center and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force chief as members. Its first assignment was to investigate the P5.3-billion tax credit scam at the OSSC allegedly committed in 1995-98.</P> <P>Reyes said that of the 1,652 fraudulently acquired tax credit certificates totaling P5.349 billion, the BOC filed only 60 civil cases involving P2.49 billion.</P> <P>Of the 60 cases, 15 were dismissed for lack of interest to prosecute and seven are scheduled for dismissal for the same reason. Five cases were settled for 20 percent of their original amounts, while 33 cases are pending in court.</P> <P>The BIR, Reyes said, does not lag behind the BOC in performance. He said the bureau has filed only four cases in the Court of Tax Appeals.</P> <P>One case involving Pilipinas Shell was dismissed for lack of evidence, causing the government to lose P684 million, he said. Three other cases are pending with no clear end in sight.</P> <P>"The government is letting these influential tax cheats off the hook," Reyes said.</P> <P>In a related development, Felix Chingkoe Tuesday appealed to the BIR to stop the sale of his brother Faustino's properties that are the subject of a multimillion-peso suit that grew out of a tax credit scam.</P> <P>Chingkoe, speaking to newsmen, said Faustino had begun disposing of his properties preparatory to fleeing the country, but the BIR has refused to act. He said the BIR instead told him to go to court and get a temporary restraining order.</P> <P>Chingkoe lamented that witnesses who tried to help the government run after his brother were the ones who were charged by Task Force 156, while Faustino and his family were allowed to leave the Philippines for Canada</P></SPAN></FONT></DIV>

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