Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Kapatiran ng mga Naglilingkod sa Pamahalaan ng Pilipinas, Inc. vs. Tan [G.R. No. 81311 June 30, 1988]

Facts:  These four (4) petitions seek to nullify Executive Order No. 273 issued by the President of the Philippines, and which amended certain sections of the National Internal Revenue Code and adopted the value-added tax, for being unconstitutional in that its enactment is not allegedly within the powers of the President; that the VAT is oppressive, discriminatory, regressive, and violates the due process and equal protection clauses and other provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

The VAT is a tax levied on a wide range of goods and services. It is a tax on the value, added by every seller, with aggregate gross annual sales of articles and/or services, exceeding P200,00.00, to his purchase of goods and services, unless exempt. VAT is computed at the rate of 0% or 10% of the gross selling price of goods or gross receipts realized from the sale of services.

The VAT is said to have eliminated privilege taxes, multiple rated sales tax on manufacturers and producers, advance sales tax, and compensating tax on importations. The framers of EO 273 that it is principally aimed to rationalize the system of taxing goods and services; simplify tax administration; and make the tax system more equitable, to enable the country to attain economic recovery.

The VAT is not entirely new. It was already in force, in a modified form, before EO 273 was issued. As pointed out by the Solicitor General, the Philippine sales tax system, prior to the issuance of EO 273, was essentially a single stage value added tax system computed under the "cost subtraction method" or "cost deduction method" and was imposed only on original sale, barter or exchange of articles by manufacturers, producers, or importers. Subsequent sales of such articles were not subject to sales tax. However, with the issuance of PD 1991 on 31 October 1985, a 3% tax was imposed on a second sale, which was reduced to 1.5% upon the issuance of PD 2006 on 31 December 1985, to take effect 1 January 1986. Reduced sales taxes were imposed not only on the second sale, but on every subsequent sale, as well. EO 273 merely increased the VAT on every sale to 10%, unless zero-rated or exempt.

Issue: Whether or not EO 273 is unconstitutional

Held: No.  Petitioners have failed to show that EO 273 was issued capriciously and whimsically or in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility. It appears that a comprehensive study of the VAT had been extensively discussed by this framers and other government agencies involved in its implementation, even under the past administration. As the Solicitor General correctly sated. "The signing of E.O. 273 was merely the last stage in the exercise of her legislative powers. The legislative process started long before the signing when the data were gathered, proposals were weighed and the final wordings of the measure were drafted, revised and finalized. Certainly, it cannot be said that the President made a jump, so to speak, on the Congress, two days before it convened."

Next, the petitioners claim that EO 273 is oppressive, discriminatory, unjust and regressive.

The petitioners" assertions in this regard are not supported by facts and circumstances to warrant their conclusions. They have failed to adequately show that the VAT is oppressive, discriminatory or unjust. Petitioners merely rely upon newspaper articles which are actually hearsay and have evidentiary value. To justify the nullification of a law, there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not a doubtful and argumentative implication.

As the Court sees it, EO 273 satisfies all the requirements of a valid tax. It is uniform. A tax is considered uniform when it operates with the same force and effect in every place where the subject may be found." The sales tax adopted in EO 273 is applied similarly on all goods and services sold to the public, which are not exempt, at the constant rate of 0% or 10%.

The disputed sales tax is also equitable. It is imposed only on sales of goods or services by persons engage in business with an aggregate gross annual sales exceeding P200,000.00. Small corner sari-sari stores are consequently exempt from its application. Likewise exempt from the tax are sales of farm and marine products, spared as they are from the incidence of the VAT, are expected to be relatively lower and within the reach of the general public.

The Court likewise finds no merit in the contention of the petitioner Integrated Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines that EO 273, more particularly the new Sec. 103 (r) of the National Internal Revenue Code, unduly discriminates against customs brokers.

At any rate, the distinction of the customs brokers from the other professionals who are subject to occupation tax under the Local Tax Code is based upon material differences, in that the activities of customs brokers (like those of stock, real estate and immigration brokers) partake more of a business, rather than a profession and were thus subjected to the percentage tax under Sec. 174 of the National Internal Revenue Code prior to its amendment by EO 273. EO 273 abolished the percentage tax and replaced it with the VAT.

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