Govt files 1st tax evasion case vs pawnshop owner

THE Aquino government yesterday filed its first tax evasion case against a pawnshop owner who claimed of on the brink of bankruptcy but still could afford to buy luxury cars.

Revenue Chief Kim Jacinto-Henares said a criminal case was filed against Villarica chain of pawnshops owner William Villarica for underpaying his taxes from 1998 to 2009 amounting to P25,607. Villarica Pawnshop Inc. lists its office address in Quiapo, Manila.

Henares said Villarica, however, was able to buy luxury cars such as a Lamborghini sports car worth P26 million and also owns a Ferrari.

The BIR filed a criminal complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Villarica “for attempting to evade and willful failure to file an income tax returns, punishable under Sections 254 and 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, and carries an imprisonment of not more than 10 years.”

Henares said Villarica has stopped filing income tax since 2002 to 2009 claiming that his pawnshop business has already “stopped operating.”

But the new BIR chief said it was during this period that the businessman was able to purchase the luxury cars

Based on the initial computation made by the BIR, Villarica’s tax deficiency for the Lamborghini purchase alone could reach P16.2 million, while the possible indebtedness of Villarica for the value-added tax could also amount P6.3 million with an additional 50 percent surcharge.

Henares said that there is a presumption that the Lamborghini’s value is the total earnings of Villarica, which would be the basis of the tax evasion case.

“We would first prioritize the criminal case before initiating a civil case that would allow the government to recover the extent of Villarica’s tax deficiency to the government,” she said.

Justice Secretary Laila de Lima said her department is now reviewing a total of 16 high profile tax evasion complaints file before the DOJ.

“These are already existing complaints that we want to revive. But for now, we have yet to name them as we still need to determine whether these cases were already pending before the courts or DOJ’s opinion as to the probable cause has yet to be rendered,” she said.

De Lima declined to name the personalities behind the 16 high-profile tax evasion cases but said that the list is comprised of famous personalities and celebrities.

She also did not say if the list includes campaign donors of President Aquino. Dino Ng

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