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Di lang sa ownership sabit! BIR sues Rappler for unpaid P134M tax

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The woes of online media site Rappler just keep on piling up.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue on Thursday (March 8) said it filed tax evasion charges against Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) for willfully evading to pay taxes worth P133.8 million and failing to provide correct information in its Annual Income Tax Return (ITR) and Value Added Tax Returns (VAT) for taxable year 2015.

Named as co-respondents of RHC are Rappler president Maria Ressa and treasurer James Bitanga.

In a statement, the BIR said RHC did not pay income tax and VAT for the sale of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs).

Based on its investigation, BIR said RHC purchased common shares from Rappler Inc. amounting to P19.1 million. The company subsequently issued and sold PDRs to two foreign investors for P181.7 million, using the same common shares it purchased from Rappler Inc. as the underlying asset or share.

The BIR said the purchase of shares and subsequent issuance of PDRs for profit “is proof that RHC is engaged in the purchase of securities and resale thereof to customers.”

“As a consequence of its acts and omissions, the aggregate tax liability of RHC amounted to PhP 133,841,305.75 broken down as follows: IT — PhP91,320,481.08; and VAT— PhP42,520,824.67,” it said.

In addition to RHC and its two officials, the BIR also charged accountant Noel Baladiang from R.G. Manabat and Co. for signing and certifying the financial statements of RHC despite the clear omission and misstatement of the company’s actual taxable income.

Earlier this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked Rappler’s business registration papers for violating the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership for media companies.

The SEC decision is under appeal at the Court of Appeals.