TAX revenues lost due to misdeclaration of steel imports would have been enough to fund government social services and infrastructure projects, Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said yesterday.
“The huge amount of tax revenues the government is losing due to this malpractice could be used to fund infrastructure projects under the president’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ programs, particularly those that are intended to alleviate the country’s transportation system to ease the commuters’ daily burden,” Atienza said.
“Instead of introducing new tax reforms to raise revenue for the government’s social services and infrastructure programs, the government should be looking into the issue of smuggling at the BOC (Bureau of Customs), especially steel,” he also said.
Atienza noted that the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) is now investigating reports that the government reportedly lost half a trillion pesos in revenues because of the misdeclaration of steel imports.
The amount dwarfs the P37.88 billion in unpaid taxes that cigarette maker Mighty Corp. allegedly failed to pay the government for using counterfeit tax stamps on its cigarette packs.
The House of Representatives on Monday approved economic tax reforms removing restrictions on foreigners from practicing their professions in the Philippines and another one simplifying taxes on financial instruments.
Among the comprehensive tax reform program measures already approved by Congress include the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Tax Act (PIFITA), which makes up the fourth package of the government’s comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP).
Dante Jimenez, chair of Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, has earlier confirmed that they are investigating reports that big steel manufacturers have been falsifying their importation documents and misdeclaring the real value of their imports to do away with payment of proper taxes.
Jimenez said the PACC is looking into the real value of imported steel billets over the past 10 years on suspicions that steelmakers have been declaring low values to pay lower taxes.
He said documents in the possession of the PACC showed that imported steel billets from several countries displayed big discrepancies in terms of size, description and volume, a clear case of misdeclaration.
President Duterte has reportedly been informed of the tax evasion case being prepared by the PACC and the Department of Trade and Industry against customs officials and steel makers who are accused of describing the imports of cast and prime steel billets used for steel manufacturing as Grade 60 when the orders under the same code are a mix of Grade 40 (5sp) and Grade 33 (3sp).
Jimenez said the PACC is already preparing the tax evasion cases against a leading steel manufacturer and some BOC officials.
Last month, the President slammed the BOC anew for rampant corruption, and axed 64 top officials and employees linked to unethical practices.
Last year, giant cigarette maker Mighty Corp. paid nearly P40 billion to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to settle tax deficiencies as part of a compromise deal.
Three tax evasion complaints filed against Mighty Corp. accused the company of not paying excise taxes on cigarette products and for using counterfeit tax stamps on cigarette packs. The BIR valued the company’s combined tax dues and other fees and charges at P37.88 billion.