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Are the claims of Rep. Rodante Marcoleta on ABS-CBN’s tax issue real?

Rep. Rodante Marcoleta made false allegations on ABS-CBN’s tax payments

SAGIP Party list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta was wrong when he claimed that ABS-CBN violated the country’s tax law “tax avoidance schemes.”

During the hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise on May 26, Marcoleta showed a comparative graph containing the taxes paid by ABS-CBN and rival GMA Network. It was the same graph being proliferated on social media by Duterte supporters and ABS-CBN critics.

In the graph, Marcoleta claimed ABS-CBN avoided paying their taxes in 2018 having -5% effective tax rate.

“It used its…subsidiary Big Dipper Digital Content and Design Inc, a PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) registered company, as tax shield,” Marcoleta said.

“Its main customer is ABS-CBN Hungary and because of this unconscionable tax avoidance scheme, ABS-CBN’s alleged effective tax rate in 2018 was at negative 5%. This means that ABS-CBN managed to avoid paying taxes in 2018,” he added.

However, tax expert and founder of Asian Consulting Group Mon Abrea said Marcoleta’s claim cannot be true.

He said it is impossible for a corporation to have a negative effective tax rate.

“For obvious reasons, tax credit is not tax avoidance. It’s an advance payment already, meaning it’s been taxed from a different income or other transactions before they declared it.”

Meanwhile, according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Kapamilya network has paid its taxes for the years 2016 to 2019.

“They are regularly filing and paying their taxes for the past number of years,” said Simplicio Cabantac Jr, BIR Large Taxpayers Service head.

ABS-CBN’s audited financial statement which was also included in their annual report to the SEC stated that for the year 2018 their effective tax rate was 4% and not -5% as alleged by Marcoleta and their critics.

ABS-CBN’s financial records were audited by well-known audit firm SGV & Co reconciled the network’s statutory tax rate to 30%, with their effective tax rate of 4% for year 2018.

With regards to Big Dipper, its application to be registered as an IT (Information Technology) ecozone was approved by PEZA on July 14, 2009. Its principal activities listed in the annual report are digital film archiving and central library and content licensing and transmission.

Based on PEZA’s rules, companies that are engaged in IT service export are eligible for their incentives, which include an income tax holiday (ITH) for 4 to 8 years. Upon expiration of the ITH, registered companies are subjected to a 5% special tax on gross income and are exempted from all national and local taxes.


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