BIR questions drop in Pacquiao's tax payment in 2009

Posted at 12/14/10 3:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines - What happened to eight-division boxing champ Manny Pacquiao's multimillion-dollar earnings in 2009?

This is the question on the minds of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) officials upon learning that champion boxer paid only P7.41 million (approximately $168,918) in taxes for 2009 compared to P125 million (approximately $2.8 million) in 2008.

Pacquiao had two prize fights in 2009, both of which he won. The Filipino fighter knocked out British boxer Ricky Hatton in their May 2, 2009 fight and then followed it up with a TKO over Puerto Rican pugilist Miguel Cotto in November 14 of the same year.

In the Hatton fight, Pacquiao earned a reported $12 million for just 2 rounds of boxing. He also got an estimated $22 million for the Cotto fight, which included his fight purse and pay-per-view earnings.

In an interview, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said the bureau was surprised that Pacquiao only ranked 113th in the list of top individual taxpayers for 2009, considering he had been topping the BIR annual list for the past years.

"Offhand, ang unang reaksyon namin ay bakit nagkaganito? Tinignan namin kung mayroong nag-iba sa 2008 at 2009. Wala naman kaming nakitang pagkakaiba. If there is no material difference or there is improvement, the tax should be the same or even higher. If there is a large discrepancy, we start thinking and we ask the taxpayer what happened and why their tax payment is so low," she told ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda."

Meanwhile, Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta party-list Rep. Miles Roces said the Pacquiao camp was also surprised by the steep drop in the boxer's tax payments.

"We were also surprised by the report. Very glaring yung disparity. The chief of staff ng office ni Manny na si Jeng Gacal looked into it and talked to the his accountants who said that his earnings from abroad have yet to be reflected. So the only thing reflected is his local earnings," he said in the same interview.

He said Top Rank boss Bob Arum is also in the country to clarify the matter of Pacquiao's income. "Hindi yata naipasok ng maayos. He also has taxes in the US that are still being fixed by the promoters...Once the money comes in, hindi maglalayo sa mga binayaran niya nung ibang taon," he added.

The BIR chief, however, questioned how Pacquiao could not have gotten his earnings in the Hatton and Cotto fights which were a year ago.

"I have a problem with the timing issue. He had two fights in 2009, the first was in May, the second in November. If he didn't get the money for the first fight after 9 months, then he should have sued and I haven't heard reports of him suing anybody in the US because of the earnings. So let's see if this is true," she said in a separate dzMM interview.

She said that since Pacquiao is not a US citizen, the prizes should already be taxed before the money is given to him. She noted that the US Internal Revenue Service is much stricter in imposing taxes.

"I'm not sure if this is true but if you are not a US resident, when you are paid the taxes are already deducted. That is the normal procedure. But let's see his records. The procedure is - if you earn P100 million in the US and P50 million in the Philippines, you report P150 million earnings in the Philippines. You compute the tax, let's assume its 32% so it's P50 million pesos. Now if he pays P30 million tax in the US, that is deducted from the P50 million so you pay P20 million," she said.

Roces said Pacquiao, who is already a congressman representing Sarangani province, is aware of the situation and will do what is right for the country.

"Sa history ni Congressman Pacquiao, he does not shirk his responsibilities as a taxpayer. We always joke that he is the top individual taxpayer. That is a running joke. Be assured that once we get all the details on the income that he get in the fights in the US, he will pay his obligations. He will not hide from it. He has no intention not to pay his taxes," he said.