Senator Emmanuel Pacquaio on Wednesday said former Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares should be investigated in connection with the proliferation of fake tax stamps that had deprived the government billions of pesos in revenues.
Pacquiao noted that fake tax stamps have been in existence even before the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte and it is only proper to determine why the previous BIR leadership was not able to address the problem.
“There is really a need to investigate. We have to know if there was big money involved or if there was corruption,” he said in Filipino.
The BIR’s tax stamp system requires all cigarette packs, both local and imported, to bear tax stamps as part of efforts of the tax bureau to effectively collect excise tax from manufacturers.
Cigarette packs that do not have the required tax stamps are presumed to be illegal and could be ground for tax evasion.
The tax stamp system was implemented during Henares’ term as BIR commissioner.
Pacquiao made the call over the discovery of over P2 billion worth of cigarettes with alleged fake stamps by the Bureaus of Customs and the BIR.
The cigarette packs belong to local manufacturer Mighty Corp. owned by Alexander Wong Chu King.
The President in a speech last Sunday said the cigarette manufacturer must pay the government at least P15 billion in taxes as possible settlement.
In a recent hearing of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means on the proposed tax reform package of the executive department, the BIR said there was an P8 billion decrease in sin tax collection from tobacco products.
Among the reasons cited by the bureau for the decline include the proliferation of fake tax stamps, smuggled cigarettes and the bigger graphic health warning on cigarette packs.
Pacquiao said former officials of the BIR should be investigated because the tax stamp system started during their time with the Aquino administration.
“And they should be made accountable if it turns out that they did not do something to stop [the proliferation of fake tax stamps],” the senator added.