ABS-CBN insists it has no unpaid taxes amid shutdown concerns

February 12, 2020 - 5:03 PM
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ABS-CBN building
ABS-CBN's ELJ Communications Center in Quezon City. (Patrick Roque via CC BY-SA 4.0)

(UPDATED June 15, 2020; 4:15 p.m.) Claims on ABS-CBN’s unpaid taxes to the government resurfaced on social media with the hashtag #YestoABSCBNShutdown following the quo warranto petition filed to revoke the network giant’s operations.

Solicitor General Jose Calida filed the petition earlier this week, citing supposed constitutional violations, even though ABS-CBN’s franchise is already set to expire on March 30, 2020.

While press advocates and journalists protested against this move, vocal supporters of the administration brought up ABS-CBN’s past tax evasion charges anew online.

Mocha Uson, blogger and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) deputy administrator, was among the pro-administration influencers who shared such content on Facebook and Twitter.

“Mas bagay ito #YesToABSCBNShutDown,” she said.

The hashtag #YestoABSCBNShutdown soon trended on local social media, and was eventually countered with #NotoABSCBNShutdown and #IStandwithABSCBN tweets.

The accusations on unpaid government dues, however, is not part of the quo warranto petition.

What Calida purported is the firm’s illegal operations in the country. He accused the network of supposed foreign ownership and running operations it has not been given permission to do so in the first place.

ABS-CBN has since denied these allegations and dismissed the petition as part of the government’s new efforts to deprive the public, particularly its viewers, of news, entertainment and public service.

Does ABS-CBN have tax deficiencies and unpaid debts?

ABS-CBN disproved the claims on February 11, saying that it no longer has a tax liability with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

“In fact, the BIR issued a tax clearance certificate to ABS-CBN in 2019,” part of its statement read.

A total of P70.5 billion in taxes have already been paid to the government, ABS-CBN pointed out, and even made the firm among the top 200 non-individual tax payers in the Philippines.

“ABS-CBN takes pride in adhering to its corporate values of honesty and integrity in the conduct of its businesses. We have no unpaid obligations to any bank or financial institution,” it said.

“We remain grateful for the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the nation, whether through the services we offer to the people or by paying our taxes to the government,” it added.

To specify, Lopez Holdings has asserted back in 2017 that Benpres, the holding firm’s former name, does not have unpaid debts to the Development Bank of the Philippines.

“All debt papers, including those sold by DBP to the SPV were eventually settled by the company,” the group said.

ABS-CBN and its properties have also entered into four agreements with the BIR since 2018, all of which were approved by the Court of Tax Appeals.

  1. ABS-CBN vs Commissioner of Internal Revenue

The BIR accepted a total of P152.44 million from ABS-CBN on February 2019. This is worth the 40 percent of its assessed deficiency in income tax, value-added tax and documentary stamp tax payments.

  1. ABS-CBN Film Productions Inc. vs Commissioner of Internal Revenue

A resolution by the First Division of the CTA said that this unit will pay the BIR a compromise worth P16.1 million on July 31, 2019.

This application to settle was based on BIR’s “doubtful validity of respondent’s assessment.”

  1. ABS-CBN Film Productions Inc. vs Commissioner of Internal Revenue

In a decision dated November 23, 2018, the BIR accepted the offer of the production unit of a compromise deal of P3 million.

  1. ABS-CBN Publishing Inc. vs Commissioner of Internal Revenue

This subsidiary agreed to pay the BIR P30 million in settlement on Jan. 22, 2019.