"The investigation is ongoing. We noticed discrepancies in the figures." - BIR on Sereno's tax declaration

photo file from CNN (ctto)

Manila, Philippines – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has found irregularities in the tax declarations of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa revealed the information during the resume of the hearing on the impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice.

“The investigation is ongoing. We noticed discrepancies in the figures. But we can’t disclose it yet because of the prohibition under Section 270 of our tax code,” Guballa said referring to the provision of the National Internal Revenue Code.

The said provision under Section 270 prohibits disclosure of information on taxpayers, which is punishable by a fine of P50, 000 to not more than P100, 000 or imprisonment of two to five years, or could be both.

“The BIR is of the belief that we cannot give the information on any finding [at this point]. There are exemptions, namely, if there is waiver on the part of the individual concerned, [and]by order of the judicial court or the Senate impeachment court during an impeachment trial. We are still in the committee hearing,” Guballa said.

The chief justice has been accused of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution, as filed by lawyer Larry Gadon.

Sereno allegedly failed to declare her P37 million income as a legal counsel for the government in the international arbitration dispute over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

“If the impeachment court issues us an order [to make our findings public], then by all means, we will provide them to the [impeachment]court,” Guballa said, noting that the BIR would help during the probe.

On the other hand, Guballa also said that BIR already sent a letter of request to the Office of the President asking for permission to disclose its findings on Sereno;’s income tax returns and tax declarations before the House panel.

Source: Manila Times

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