Jinggoy faces tax probe
MANILA - Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is facing a tax investigation in connection with the property he has acquired in affluent Wack Wack subdivision in Mandaluyong City.
The mansion he is building reportedly costs P120 million, although unconfirmed reports have placed the cost at around P500 million.
His 3,000-square-meter lot is worth at least P210 million. Lot prices in the subdivision are in the P70,000-P80,000 per square-meter range, according to barangay officials there.
Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares told reporters on Friday night that her agency would look into all tax angles in Estrada’s acquisition of the property.
She was interviewed on the sidelines of the floor debates in the House of Representatives on the proposed P2.268-trillion 2014 national budget.
She said the investigation would include determining whether the son of former President Joseph Estrada had enough declared income to support his lot purchase and his mansion’s construction.
“I cannot say that just because he has acquired a new property, he already has a tax liability. I have to see first his reported income. If the property is included in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) and is supported by his reported income, then there is no problem,” she said.
She said the problem would arise if Sen. Estrada’s declared earnings were insufficient for his property acquisition.
In this case, she added that the senator would have to explain where he got his funds, and if such funds were part of his income, why he did not declare them.
In his 2012 SALN, Estrada valued his real properties at P66 million while his personal properties were worth P149.16 million. The Wack Wack acquisition was not specifically listed among his real properties.
He listed his liabilities at P21.66 million and his net worth at P193.5 million.
Estrada said he sold his North Greenhills, San Juan house near his father’s residence in 2011 for P100 million, which he used to buy the Wack Wack lot.
He said he started building his new house in 2012. He did not say how he funded the construction.
In an interview with Senate reporters on Thursday, Estrada initially said his Wack Wack property was not part of his 2012 SALN because the title to it has not been transferred to him.
But he later claimed that he included it as part of his investments, which he valued at P122 million.
However, Chairman Francisco Duque of the Civil Service Commission said the lot should have been declared in the real properties column in the SALN.
Henares said another tax angle the BIR would look into is whether the seller of the Wack Wack lot paid capital gains tax, and whether Estrada’s sale of his Greenhills home was subject to such tax.
She said the BIR would also determine if the senator withheld any amount from the seller for tax payment purposes.
“We are always looking into the tax angle. We cannot say anything until we are ready to bring the case to court,” she added.
The BIR chief also said the P61-million tax evasion case her agency filed against alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles and her husband Jaime on Thursday is the first wave of charges to be brought against the couple.
She added that the BIR is still determining how much Napoles’ bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) that received pork barrel funds from lawmakers remitted to her.
Pork barrel scam whistle-blowers who were officers of the NGOs have claimed that they withdrew all their funds and gave the money to Napoles and some of the lawmakers’ staff.
The whistle-blowers, together with the National Bureau of Investigation, have filed plunder charges against Estrada and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr., and Napoles with the Office of the Ombudsman.
According to the complaint, the three senators received a total of P581 million in kickbacks from the Napoles NGOs, to which they allocated hundreds of millions in pork barrel funds.
Sought to comment on what the BIR intends to do in its tax probe on Estrada’s Wack Wack property, Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Dasmariñas, Cavite said the agency would determine, based on the senator’s SALN and his income tax declaration, whether he had declared enough income to fund his acquisition.
“If he did not, they should probably determine whether he obtained a loan, which should be part of his liabilities in his SALN. If there is no sufficient income and there is no loan, or if there is income and loan but these are not sufficient, they will assume he used undeclared earnings,” he said.