BIR files a P133.8M tax evasion case vs. Ressa et al..

BIR files a P133.8M tax evasion case vs. Ressa et al..

Rappler’s in trouble again!

Still not done with its revocation of its registration by the Securities and Exchange Commission for its non-compliance with the constitutional limit for foreign ownership of media companies.Though last week philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network announced that it has donated its Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to 14 Filipino managers of the Rappler Philippines.

 Omidyar network gave the statement that: "This donation completely eliminates the sole basis of the SEC ruling against Rappler Incorporated and Rappler Holdings Corporation. We therefore strongly believe that the companies should be allowed to continue operating unhindered in the Philippines."  *

Rappler's President Maria Ressa facing a tax evasion complaint from the BIR (photo credit to owner)
The case is currently pending in the Court of Appeals and it would probably take time before a decision can be known from it.

And now here comes another problem just exploded before their faces.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) filed a tax evasion case against Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC).

Named as respondents for the tax evasion case are its president Maria Ressa, and treasurer James Bitanga before the Department of Justice.

Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) is the parent company of the online news media outfit Rappler Incorporated whose primary purpose is to buy and sell real and personal properties, according to the BIR.

 In statement released by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), it said there was "deliberate failure" by RHC to provide correct information in its income tax return and value added tax (VAT) in 2015.

It said RHC bought shares amounting to P19.25 million from Rappler Incorporated and then issued and sold Philippine Depository Receipts (PDRs) worth P181M to two foreign entities.

BIR said no income tax and VAT were paid by RHC in 2015 for the income it gained in the PDR transactions.

"As a consequence of its acts and omissions, the aggregate tax liability of RHC amounted to P133,841,305," BIR said. *

The BIR also filed a complaint against accountant Noel Baladiang of RG Manabat & Company "for signing and certifying the financial statement of RHC despite the clear omission and misstatement of his client."

Ressa called this action by the BIR as "ludicrous," and urged the BIR to "check its own records." Rappler has been paying its taxes accurately, promptly, and diligently, with no less than the BIR commending it as one of Revenue Region 7's top 500 corporate taxpayers.

"This is clear intimidation and harassment. The government is wasting its energy and resources in an attempt to silence reporting that does not please the administration," Ressa said.
Report from Rappler

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