By: Marice Maestro
Commissioner of Internal Revenue Caesar R. Dulay recently released directive RMO 46-2016 which states that all tax and tax-related issues and developments in the BIR must be relayed to taxpayers in a clear, correct and unmistakable manner. For this purpose, the Commissioner strictly enjoins all revenue officials and employees to abide for the protection and enhancement of the taxpayers’ rights. To quote: “All advisories, revenue actions/decisions and policy statements that substantially affect the basic rights and remedies of the taxpayer relative to the assessment and collection of taxes or put in issue the government’s exercise of its taxing powers and tax administration responsibilities, shall not be posted in the BIR Website or released to the print and broadcast media without the prior approval of the Commissioner.”
President Rodrigo Duterte, on the other hand, has issued a cautionary advice to businessmen who evade paying taxes. The president said that he is just waiting for a list of tax evaders coming from the concerned government agencies he tapped after which he is planning to release their names publicly. To no one’s surprise, the shame campaign continues. Moreover, the president is proposing placing “suspected” tax cheaters under hold departure order and charging them with the appropriate criminal sanctions.
Both RMO 46-2016 and the president’s announcements were released on August 8, 2016 but it appears that their statements are the same poles of a magnet that would never stick together. If the Commissioner intends disseminate information in a clear, correct and unmistakable manner, one must agree that: in court, trial must conclude resulting to a decision; in administrative level, an assessment of correct taxes must be released — but keep in mind that it may also lead to court proceedings as a matter of elementary remedy.
If the shame campaign continues and for sure it will as expressly intended; it might defeat the purpose of due process. Shamed using media? For sure tax dodgers would look “guilty as charged” as those drug users and pushers being killed one by one. Not only that; it would definitely affect the way their suppliers and customers look at their businesses. The alleged tax evader’s goodwill will be tarnished which will affect their business operations; worse, the livelihood of their employees will be at stake.
A piece of unsolicited advice: Start media shaming if due process has already been exhausted. Supreme Court decision Vivo vs. Pagcor GR 187854 stated as I quote, “the essence of due process is to be heard or be able to explain one’s side.” Tired of waiting for due process? Speed it up by amending or revoking some outdated laws of this Republic.
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This article is a privileged communication. The foregoing is written based on the author’s conviction and belief.