House bill seeks lifetime income tax exemption for Manny Pacquiao

Valenzuela City Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo wants to give his colleague, Sarangani Rep. and boxing champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao a lifetime tax exemption.

This, after Congressman Elpidio Barzaga filed a resolution asking to probe the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for Pacquiao’s tax problems, and after Congressman Lito Atienza filed a bill seeking to grant tax perks to athletes who win prizes overseas.

Gunigundo’s Bill 3521 wants to be known as the Pacquiao Act of 2013.

READ: Why Manny Pacquiao’s tax liability reached P2.2B?

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) opposed the proposal to grant Pacquiao income tax exemption privileges.

BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto Henares described the measure as “unfair” and “unconstitutional.” She said the law calls for equal treatment of all citizens.

In filing House Bill 3521, Gunigundo said the boxing icon is an inspiration and is loved by millions of Filipinos for placing the country in the world map due to his extraordinary exploits in the ring.

Gunigundo acknowledged that this would be the first time that the rare privilege of a lifetime income-tax exemption would be conferred on an individual in the country, but he noted that this had been done in Colombia, which granted a similar privilege to its citizen who won the Miss Universe crown in 1958.

The Colombian government also built the beauty queen, Luz Marina Zuluaga, a mansion. It even declared a national holiday in her name and printed postal stamps in her honor, the lawmaker noted.

He said Zuluaga won just once in an international beauty pageant and received so many accolades, while Pacquiao has done more.

Section 3 reads, “The state shall confer lifetime individual income tax exemption to boxing icon Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, also known as Manny Pacquiao, who has given outstanding honor and pride to the Filipino people.”

It also states that all payments for income tax already paid shall not be reimbursed, and that “all other incurred income tax liabilities for the previous years shall now be obliterated by the operation of this act.”

In Malacañang, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said he found the proposal to exempt Pacquiao from paying income tax for life unreasonable. “Paying taxes is one of the basic obligations of every Filipino citizen so that proposal is not justified,” Coloma said. “As far as the government is concerned, it is the responsibility of citizens to support the government to pay their correct rights at the right time.”

President Aquino had earlier called on Pacquiao to address his tax obligations instead of engaging in a media war with the BIR.

ABAKADA party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz on Thursday made a pitch for tax exemptions for athletes who win prizes overseas, such as Pacquiao.

Dela Cruz said the honor given by these athletes to the country makes them deserving of the tax perks.

Pacquiao’s friend, Buhay Party List Rep. Lito Atienza, authored the bill, which adds the following tax exemption:

(D) Prizes and awards in sports competitions – All prizes and awards to amateur and professional athletes in local and international sports competitions and tournaments, whether held in the Philippines or abroad, sanctioned by their national sports association or any recognized world or international sports associations.

If approved, the bill would give exemption to prizes and awards in all the aforementioned competitions earned ten years prior to the approval and effectivity of this act.

The tax incentives provided for in this act may be availed or enjoyed by the winner-taxpayer who may have, or in connection with any pending assessments, tax cases or pending assessment charges or warrants and levy in the process of or yet to be implemented.

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