BIR to Stradcom: Pay taxes or face raps

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Stradcom Corp., the information technology (IT) provider of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), is facing charges and other sanctions for refusing to settle its P317-million tax dues with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

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On Tuesday, Internal Revenue chief Kim Henares confirmed that the IT firm has unpaid tax obligations which, regardless of its reasons, it should pay promptly.

“’Yun ang utang nila sa buwis, dapat nila itong bayaran [That’s what they owe in taxes, they should pay],” Henares told The Manila Times.

She likewise confirmed The Times’ report quoting LTO chief Assistant Secretary Virgie Torres on the non-payment of Stradcom’s taxes.

“As of now, we haven’t received any payment from Stradcom. Their tax liability is long overdue so we have to charge them immediately,” Henares said in Filipino.

On Monday, Torres disclosed that Henares informed her that the fund was not forwarded to her agency.

Torres said the money was part of the P1 billion ordered released in January from the P4.2 billion Stradcom account that was put in escrow.

A lawyer for Stradcom, Eric Pilapil, argued that the firm would only pay all its tax dues when it has secured the entire P4.2-billion account. However, Torres claimed the P1 billion payment was released in January this year on the agreement that it would be partly used to pay for the taxes.

The commissioner, for her part, stressed that Stradcom’s obligation to pay taxes differs from its obligation to charge the government for its IT services.

Henares further said that the IT company should not involve the BIR in its problems with the LTO and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

“If they have a problem, it’s their business and we are not involved in that issue. Stradcom should not make that as an excuse for not paying their taxes,” she said.

Stradcom insisted that it is the company’s position that the P1 billion payment made to the company was not enough to trigger the income tax due for the subject calendar year.

But Henares said whether or not Stradcom has fully recovered its claims, the first tranche of payment had been agreed to include the P317 million intended for tax settlement.

“Ibang usapan yung kanilang paniningil sa gobyerno [Seeking payment from the government for their services is an entirely different matter],” she explained.

On November 21, 2012, DOTC Secretary Emilio Joseph Abaya issued a two-page memorandum for President Benigno Aquino through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa on the payment to the IT firm.

“This is to seek approval to release the amount of P1 billion as payment for the following amounts from Stradcom: P317 million to BIR; P183 million for working capital and other trade payables; P500 million for banks/creditors for overdue account,“ the memo read.

He added that the DOTC has been up to date with its payments to Stradcom but is paying the same to an escrow account. Accordingly, Stradcom has no access to the monies unless with the consent of the government.

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