Public told: File your ITR or be fined, jailed

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 14) — The controversial decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to junk the consolidated disqualification cases against presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos has raised criticisms and even some confusion on whether the public must still file their income tax returns (ITR) in the first place.

But former Bureau of Internal Revenue chief Kim Henares maintained Monday that anyone who refuses to file their ITR may face penalties.

"There's a penal provision for failure to file a return," Henares told CNN Philippines' The Source.

Citing Section 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code, Henares said violators may be fined up to ₱10,000 or face imprisonment of up to 10 years for failure to do so.

The section reads: "Any person required under this Code or by rules and regulations promulgated thereunder to pay any tax, make a return, keep any record, or supply correct the accurate information, who willfully fails to pay such tax, make such return, keep such record, or supply correct and accurate information, or withhold or remit taxes withheld, or refund excess taxes withheld on compensation, at the time or times required by law or rules and regulations shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not less than Ten Thousand Pesos (₱10,000) and suffer imprisonment of not less than one (1) year but not more than ten (10) years."

In its Facebook post on Monday, the Department of Finance also cited the legislative history of Section 255 which initially included imposition of cheaper penalties and shorter jail time. In 1992, a penalty of not less than ₱10,000 and an imprisonment of up to 10 years were introduced.

"According to the 1997 National Internal Revenue Code (Tax Code), not filing your required tax returns is a CRIME!" it said.

Last week, the Comelec First Division said it found no crime of moral turpitude on the part of Marcos for not filing his ITR as governor and vice governor of Ilocos Norte from 1982 to 1985. It noted that "the failure to file tax returns is not inherently wrong in the absence of a law punishing it."

It also noted that the penalty of perpetual disqualification came into force only upon the effectivity of Presidential Decree 1994 on January 1, 1986, and it cannot be made to apply to violations committed before its effectivity.

READ: Comelec division junks disqualification cases vs Marcos