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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

SC: Tax case against actress Judy Ann Santos stays

SC: Tax case against actress Judy Ann Santos stays

Actress Judy Ann Santos is now battling legal problems after her petition to dismiss the tax evasion filed against her by the Bureau of Internal Revenue was denied by the Supreme Court.

In a 27-page decision penned by Justice Chico Nazario, Santos' petition to reverse the resolution of the Court of Tax Appeals last June 19, 2006 due to lack of merit was denied.

The BIR filed a case against Santos for not declaring her income from her movie and product endorsements for the year 2002. According to one report, she has a P1.7 million tax liability.

In the decision posted on Supreme Court's official website, the Court's Third Division denied Santos’ petition for review seeking to reverse the June 19, 2006 en banc resolution of the CTA.

The said resolution denied Santos’ motion for extension of time to file petition for review to appeal the resolutions dated February 23, 2006 and May 11, 2006 of the CTA First Division, which had denied her motion to quash the information against her for violation of section 255, in relation to sections 254 and 248(B) of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC), as amended, and her subsequent motion for reconsideration, respectively.

Concurring were Division Chair Justice Consuelo Ynares- Santiago and members Justices Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, Renato C. Corona, and Ruben T. Reyes.

The Court said that the CTA en banc did not err in denying her motion for extension of time to file petition for review, stressing that Santos cannot file a petition for review with the CTA en banc to appeal the resolution of the CTA First Division denying her motion to quash. “The Resolution is interlocutory and, thus, unappealable. Even if her Petition for Review is to be treated as a petition for certiorari, it is dismissible for lack of merit,” the High Court said.

The Court also held that there was no evidence of a clear and intentional discrimination against Santos, whether by Prosecution Attorney in recommending the filing of Information against her or by the CTA First Division in denying her motion to quash. It added that the only basis for petitioner’s claim of denial of equal protection of the laws was the dismissal of the charges against singer-actress Regine Velasquez (Regina Encarnacion Velasquez in real life), while those against her were not. It explained that Santos did not establish whether she and Velasquez were similarly situated, i.e., that they committed identical acts for which they were charged with and that they presented similar arguments and evidence.

The Court stressed that the assailed CTA resolutions directly addressed the arguments raised by Santos in her motion to quash and motion for reconsideration, respectively, and explained the reasons for the denial of both motions. It added that there was nothing to sustain a finding that said resolutions were rendered capriciously, whimsically, or arbitrarily, as to constitute grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

The case against Santos stemmed from her alleged inaccurate Annual Income Tax Return for taxable year 2002 filed with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) wherein she declared an income of only PhP8.033 million derived from her talent fees solely from ABS-CBN. Allegedly, Santos received more than the said amount, not only from ABS-CBN but also from other sources, including movies and product endorsements.

Santos was charged before the CTA in 2005. That same year, the CTA First Division issued an arrest warrant against Santos prompting the latter to file a motion to quash the information. On February 23, 2006, the CTA First Division denied her motion and scheduled her arraignment. Santos filed a motion for reconsideration which the CTA also denied on May 11, 2006. (GR No. 173176, Santos v. People, August 26, 2008)

JoKer DeTor
Showbiz Top i-News

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