Where are the Fortune 500 moguls?


The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has released the list of the country’s top 10 taxpayers, and for the life of us we can’t find the names of Filipinos who make it annually to Fortune 500’s list of the world’s richest individuals.

That’s right, the world’s richest. Yet they pay less tax than the tail ender on the BIR list.

According to the BIR, the top 10 taxpayers (bless them) and the amount each has paid are Vivien Que-Azcona, owner of Mercury Drug, P131.43 million; Willy Revillame, P63.9 million; Estelito Mendoza, P53.59 million; Gerardo Sebastian Baes, P47.9 million; Kris Aquino, P44.9 million; Ronaldo Soliman, P42.79 million; John Lloyd Cruz, P42.79 million; Sharon Cuneta-Pangilinan, P42.02 million; Fernando Zobel de Ayala, P40.84 million; and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, P40.77 million.

The Filipinos who are counted among the world’s richest are Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, Roberto Ongpin, David Consunji, George Ty, Lucio and Susan Co, Robert Coyuito, Tony Tan Caktiong, and Andrew Gotianum.

Sy and Tan landed in the 68th and 314th spots among the richest in the world. They have a net worth of $13.2 billion and $5 billion, respectively.

Not one of the two—or of the six others—are included in BIR list.

We can’t believe that mere entertainers like Aquino, Cruz, and Cuneta-Pangilinan earn more than Sy and Tan, et al. Of course, they command the highest talent fees in the industry, but no way can any of them make it to the world’s most opulent men and women. That is light years away.

In the aftermath of the BIR tax collection campaign a few months ago, public schoolteachers complained they paid more taxes than professionals. And so they did.

The record shows that schoolteachers coughed out P35,952 a year on a salary of P21,500 a month. On the other hand, doctors, lawyers, and accountants paid less than P35,000 on the average.

Yeah, on the average. One lawyer paid only P200 last year. An accountant, who practiced his profession in the Makati financial district, managed to raise the princely sum of P120 to settle his tax obligations. A doctor actually paid P10. .

Does a brain surgeon earn less than a schoolteacher? Maybe so, except for the fact that he and others like him live in gated communities, drive flashy cars, and spend their annual vacation in America or Europe, where their children study in exclusive schools—schools that very few American or European families can afford.

Oh, let’s not even talk about the way the really rich live.

The teachers? They’re lucky if they can scrimp enough to make the down payment for a low—very low—cost housing developed by Manny Villar, who by the way did not make it to the list of top taxpayers either.

It turns out that the professionals are not exactly the execrable creatures others portray them to be. Why should they pay the correct taxes when the filthy rich don’t?

By the way, the Supreme Court has ordered the BIR to refund Lucio Tan for the P355 million it collected from him in 2002. It was a unanimous decision by all members of the third division.

The High Court sheds copious tears for the rich who have fallen victim to the tax agency’s overzealous drive.

But this the first time we hear of the idea. The fact is, a wealthy individual in this country decides how much to pay in a given year, and the tax collector is only happy to oblige, as long as the fellow makes a sizeable contribution to his favorite charity, which is himself.


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  1. This matter is a clear anomaly by the BIR. Even if the rich who does not belong to the top tax payers are PNoy-LP financiers, it is the job of Kim Henares to do her job if she is so concerned about fair tax collection. If this lady Henares can issue special procedures to be adopted by Physicians, Lawyers and other professionals she suspects of tax evasion, why does she not do the same to those billionaires who cannot deny their wealth. Again this is a case of cherry-picking of which this administration is getting famous for.