Kim Henares Says Giving Manny Pacquiao Lifetime Tax Break is Unconstitutional

Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares criticized the proposed bill seeking to give Sarangani congressman and boxing champion Manny Pacquiao a lifetime tax exemption.

Henares calls it unconstitutional and said that giving Pacquiao a lifetime tax break for his accomplishments as a boxer will be unfair to other taxpayers.

There should be a valid classification and everyone who is similarly situated should be accorded the same privilege.

We have other national heroes, why are not we giving them the same privilege, she told ANC on Thursday.

She said honoring Pacquiao with the privilege may also expose the country’s skewed value system, which venerates icons and not the soldiers who risk life and limb to protect and defend the country

The tax exemption for Pacquiao was proposed by Valenzuela City Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo, who wants the bill to known as the Pacquiao Act of 2013.

Under Section 3 of the bill, it says the state shall confer lifetime individual income tax exemption to boxing icon Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, also known as Manny Pacquiao, who has given outstanding honor and pride to the Filipino people.

But Henares disputed this, saying that giving honor to a country is not enough basis for a tax exemption.

Only minimum wage earners and overseas Filipino workers are exempted from paying income taxes in the Philippines.

Henares also opposed the proposal by ABAKADA partylist Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz to grant tax perks to athletes who win prizes overseas, saying that the government should give assistance to them during their training, not when they have already reaped success.

She suggested that the government should instead provide them with pension plans, healthcare or life insurance.

She also said that exempting athletes from paying taxes may mean that the government will subsidize the lavish lifestyle common to wealthy athletes.

Meanwhile, Gunigundo defended the constitutionality of his bill, saying there is nothing in the Constitution that says granting tax breaks to an individual is illegal.

There is nothing wrong with giving individual tax exemption because we are also conferring individual Filipino citizenship to foreigners who did so much for our nation to lift up our country, he told ANC.

He said if corporations are given tax holidays, Filipinos who have brought pride to the country should also be given tax perks.

Pacquiao is currently in a legal battle with the BIR for back taxes from 2008 to 2009 worth over P2.2 billion.

He has filed a civil case against the BIR before the Court of Tax Appeals, questioning the tax liability.

The CTA has issued a gag order against Pacquiao and the BIR on the tax case.