Thursday, March 29, 2012

CIR vs. John Gotamco and Sons, et.al.[G.R. No. No. L-31092 February 27, 1987]

Facts: The World Health Organization (WHO for short) is an international organization which has a regional office in Manila. An agreement was entered into between the Republic of the Philippines and the said Organization on July 22, 1951. Section 11 of that Agreement provides, inter alia, that "the Organization, its assets, income and other properties shall be: (a) exempt from all direct and indirect taxes.” The WHO decided to construct a building to house its own offices, as well as the other United Nations offices stationed in Manila. A bidding was held for the building construction. The WHO informed the bidders that the building to be constructed belonged to an international organization exempted from the payment of all fees, licenses, and taxes, and that therefore their bids "must take this into account and should not include items for such taxes, licenses and other payments to Government agencies." Thereafter, the construction contract was awarded to John Gotamco & Sons, Inc. (Gotamco for short). Subsequently, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue sent a letter of demand to Gotamco demanding payment of for the 3% contractor's tax plus surcharges on the gross receipts it received from the WHO in the construction of the latter's building. WHO. The WHO issued a certification that the bid of John Gotamco & Sons, should be exempted from any taxes in connection with the construction of the World Health Organization office building because such can be considered as an indirect tax to WHO. However, The Commissioner of Internal Revenue contends that the 3% contractor's tax is not a direct nor an indirect tax on the WHO, but a tax that is primarily due from the contractor, and thus not covered by the tax exemption agreement 

Issue: Whether or not the said 3% contractor’s tax imposed upon petitioner is covered by the “direct and indirect tax exemption” granted to WHO by the government. 

Held: Yes. The 3% contractor’s tax imposed upon petitioner is covered by the “direct and indirect tax exemption” granted to WHO. Hence, petitioner cannot be held liable for such contractor’s tax. The Supreme Court explained that direct taxes are those that are demanded from the very person who, it is intended or desired, should pay them; while indirect taxes are those that are demanded in the first instance from one person in the expectation and intention that he can shift the burden to someone else. While it is true that the contractor's tax is payable by the contractor, However in the last analysis it is the owner of the building that shoulders the burden of the tax because the same is shifted by the contractor to the owner as a matter of self-preservation. Thus, it is an indirect tax against the WHO because, although it is payable by the petitioner, the latter can shift its burden on the WHO.

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