GROWING BILLIONAIRES THIS YEAR BUT WHY ARE THEY NOT INCLUDED IN TOP 10 TAX PAYERS?

The Philippines' richest men.

The Philippines’ richest men.

The Forbes Magazine listed six new Filipino billionaires this year, joining the ranks of 11 Filipino and 1, 426 international billionaires in the world.

Henry Sy remains the Philippines richest man with his net worth surging to $13.2 billion from $8 billion in 2012. His earnings also made him jump from 116th spot to 68th richest man in the world.

The retail king’s net worth rose due to the higher share prices of flagship firm SM Investments Corporation.

Lucio Tan came in second with a wealth of $5 billion from $3.5 billion last year. The tobacco and airline magnate ranked 248th in the world. Next is Enrique Razon Jr., the owner of operator International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) and Bloomberry Resorts Corporation. Ranked 258th in the world, his wealth is valued at $4.9 billion, an increase from $1.9 billion last year.

Razon has overtaken Andrew Tan, who is also included in the top 500 billionaires in the world, in the rankings. Tan earned $3.95 billion from his corporations Megaworld, Golden Arches Development Corporation, and Alliance Global, Inc.

New billionaires this year includes David Consunji and family ($2.8 billion), George Ty and family of Metrobank Group ($2.6 billion), Lucio and Susan Co of Puregold ($2 billion), Robert Coyiuto Jr. ($1.6 billion), Tony Tan Caktiong and family of Jollibee ($1.4 billion), and Andrew Gotianun and family of Filinvest ($1.2 billion).

According to Forbes, this year’s 1,426 billionaires collectively controlled $5.4 trillion of the world’s wealth.

Megaworld's Andrew Tan paid P60.1 million in taxes for all his sources of income for 2011, which is already enough to make him the number 1 taxpayer, not Kris Aquino.

Megaworld’s Andrew Tan paid P60.1 million in taxes for all his sources of income for 2011, which is already enough to make him the number 1 taxpayer, not Kris Aquino.

When the news broke out that the Queen of all media, Kris Aquino is the number one taxpayer in the country and even beating out the billionaires, some of us were surprised by this. The Presidential sister paid a total of nearly P50 million in income taxes in 2011.

Among the top 10 tax payers include Manuel V. Pangilinan, Bank of the Philippine Islands president Aurelio Montinola, Manila Water president Gerardo Ablaza, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

But, where are the billionaires? Why are they not included in the top 10 taxpayers when many of us think that they should be in the top 10?

Henry Sy ranked 15th on the BIR list with P16.58 million income tax. His children, Hans and Teresita Sy ranked 22nd with P13.4 million income tax and 83rd with P8.3 million in income tax respectively.

Tan is far behind at 35th with P10.78 million in income tax. Surprisingly, his lawyer ranked higher than him tax payment of P 17.63 million.

Consunji ranked 176th, paying P5.9 million in 2011 while Tan, Razon, Coyiuto, Ty, Tan Caktiong, and Gotianun were nowhere to be found in the list. And even ABS-CBN owners, the Lopezes, were not in the list.

The Lopezes and Andrew Tan came forward that they paid millions of taxes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Oscar Lopez paid P37 million and his brother Manuel P11 million in taxes for 2011. Tan paid P60.1 million in taxes for all his sources of income for 2011, which is already enough to make him the number 1 taxpayer, not Kris Aquino.

Did the BIR made an error in listing the top taxpayers? If Tan can prove that he paid P60.1 million in taxes, then they have a lot of explaining to do because this is not a right way to treat BIR’s taxpayers whose taxes helps in economic development.

BIR Commissioner, Kim Henares.

BIR Commissioner, Kim Henares.

BIR Commissioner, Kim Henares explained that only those who filed income tax returns (ITRs) will find themselves on the top 500 list and not other taxes paid by individuals such as dividends’ final tax, stock transaction tax, capital gains tax, , and other taxes imposed by BIR.

Henares explained that if a tycoon is being paid a salary and there’s only one company paying the salary and it is withheld and the withholding is correct, then he don’t have to file an ITR. The tycoon might be earning more than the top person on the list but because it is withheld properly and he did not file an ITR, so the person should not be in the list.

Another reason is that the tycoons’ earnings are from dividends. These dividends are subject to a final tax but not reported on ITR. Their Income from bank deposits, stock transactions, unlisted shares and other assets are also taxed differently, not on ITR too.

Henares also explained that it is in the law to publish the top taxpayers. Even Malacanang echoed the same sentiment. It is based on the Section 14 of the Tax Amnesty Law of 2007 which states that the “Following the implementation of the tax amnesty authorized and  granted under this act, the provisions of Sections 71 and 270 of the NIRC [National Internal Revenue Code] of 1997 as amended, and Section 26 of RA 6388, to the contrary notwithstanding, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue shall, on or before May 31 following the close of each calendar year, prepare a list consisting the names of all taxpayers, their gross income and amount of income taxes paid for the immediately preceding taxable year, and allow the publication of the same in at least two newspapers of general circulation or the Bureau of Internal Revenue web site.”

Because of the long list of top taxpayers, it will eat up the space of their website and its too expensive to publish in major publications so BIR chose only those who filed ITR because they can’t controvert what they submitted.

The BIR and Malacanang also said that the list will help them catch the evading taxpayers and an act of transparency. They will compare the present list from the previous list to check for possible discrepancies in any of the taxpayers’ returns.

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