By Jun Ramirez
Surigao Congressman Prospero Pichay, Jr. has been cleared of tax evasion charges by the Court of Tax Appeals en banc.
The full court came out with a 14-page resolution denying the petition of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to reverse the decision of its First Division issued in May 2018.
In affirming the verdict of its division, the court said the criminal and civil complaints against the solon of non-filing of income tax return (ITR) and payment of corresponding taxes amounting to more than P18 million was without merit because the assessment as was based only on assumption.
The complaint arose when the lawmaker was still the head of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) in 2009, noting the huge increase in his net worth compared to the previous year.
However, the court said the
BIR and DOJ prosecutors failed to establish that Pichay had received the preliminary and final assessment notices as required by the Tax Code.
Likewise, the court said the tax agency was not able to determine if he was a mixed income earner, or receiving purely compensation income.
Pichay said that as a government employee for the said year he was not required to submit an ITR under the substituted filing system.
In supporting Pichay’s position, the court said assessment must be based on actual facts and not on mere assumption no matter how reasonable and logical.
“The presumption of correctness of assessment being a mere presumption cannot be made to rest on another assumption,” said the decision penned by Associate Justice Esperanza Fabon-Victorino.