MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) told world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao not to blame the agency for losing endorsements following his tax spat with the government.
“The congressman himself is the one fuelling the controversy. We are only answering questions,” BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said.
The eight-time world champion, who is also a member of Congress, faces a criminal case for obstructing a tax investigation into his earnings, in a case that he says has cost him millions of dollars in endorsements.
Henares said the BIR was only asking Pacquiao, one of the world’s highest-paid sportsmen, submit records of his earnings so the agency could assess if he has any unsettled tax liability.
“Those who receive a letter authority are required to submit proofs of account, receipt, contract or IRS payment because we want a realistic assessment whether there is a tax due or not,” Henares said.
Pacquiao on Monday vowed to fight the case in court and accused the BIR of singling him out for harassment, without saying why he was being targeted.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima on Tuesday said the government was only doing its job.
“I don’t think the BIR will dare to harass an eight-time world champion. He is a national icon,” Purisima, whose department oversees the bureau, told reporters.
Henares said all that Pacquiao needs to do is submit the needed documents.
“Madali lang naman ang kasong ‘yan. Pag nag-submit ka ng dokumento, mawawala na yang kaso na iyan,” Henares said.
“The sooner he submits, the sooner this controversy will die down. Wala naman kaming sinasabing liability kaya nga ho namin siya iimbestigahan,” she said.
“We have to see the gravity of the violation if there are any. As of now we are not even talking of tax evasion. We are only asking him to submit the documents,” Henares said.
Seen as the world’s best pound for pound boxer, Pacquiao declared assets at the end of 2010 at P1.13 billion and no liabilities, making him the country’s wealthiest member of Congress.
Forbes.com magazine estimated he spent $7 million in his election campaign in 2010 while also earning $35 million for his two fights against Joshua Clottey and Miguel Cotto.
Henares said in 2008, Pacquiao paid about P125 million in taxes but in 2009, he only paid P7-million.
“Bakit bumagsak eh paganda nga nang paganda ang career nya. Hindi s’ya nalalaos,” Henares added.
Pacquiao, who has a 54-3 win-loss record with two draws, stakes his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown against undefeated American Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas on June 9. With Agence France-Presse