Let’s get one thing straight. We still admire Manny Pacquiao, who remains the pride of the Philippines. We know him to be a good man whose heart is in the right place, as well as being one of the greatest professional boxers of all time.
That’s saying a lot. No wonder millions of our countrymen consider him a true Filipino hero.
We must, however, take issue with how he has handled his problems with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
A mere two days after his masterful conquest of Mexican-American Brandon Rios, the public learned that the BIR was dunning him for more than P2 billion in back taxes. The timing seemed pretty awful on the part of the taxman, but it turned out that Pacquiao and/or his lawyers and accountants had failed to file the proper documents despite having been given more than enough time to correct their error.
That’s all it is. No one is saying that Pacman is a big time tax evader. Only that he had been remiss in filing the proper forms in the past.
What we find so disturbing about this is that the public is well aware that Pacquiao is surrounded by so many useless “employees,” who are little more than dead weight. It would now seem that even at the highest levels—his close-in financial and legal advisers—he is surrounded by incompetence.
Nobody but nobody wants to see him ending up in the poorhouse after his fighting days are over.
BIR chief Kim Henares is right when she says that the burden of proof to show that he has been paying all his taxes lies with Pacquiao. The biggest issue is that the bulk of his earnings have been in the U.S., where the taxes on his earnings are automatically deducted.
Henares points out that she is not an employee of the prizefighter-cum–congressman. She adds that the BIR will be satisfied if and when Pacquiao shows the original documents showing that he has, indeed, paid his taxes in the United States.
If there is still a shortfall, this can be settled amicably, either through negotiated settlement or deferred payment. Another possibility is for him to avail of tax amnesty.
Plain and simply, there is a problem where there should be none.
Our best, albeit unsolicited, advice is for Manny Pacquiao to bite the bullet and clear his tax records immediately. If he has any arrears, these should be settled as soon as possible.
Pacman has shown in the past that he is more than willing to pay his taxes to the government of the country he loves without question. It has been pointed out that there were years when he was among the country’s top taxpayers, paying more than even the country’s taipans and business titans.
His supposed arrears should not be turned into a political issue. It’s not. It’s an economic issue.
What he should do now is to seek professional advice from any of the country’s big accounting firms like SGV. It may yet turn out that the supposed tax problem of Pacquiao is no problem at all, and all the brouhaha surrounding it is much ado about nothing.