Tax Cases Digest

PBCom. vs. CIR(GR 112024. Jan. 28, 1999)

FACTS:

Petitioner, Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCom), a commercial banking corporation duly organized under Philippine laws, filed its quarterly income tax returns for the first and second quarters of 1985, reported profits, and paid the total income tax of P5,016,954.00 by applying PBCom’s tax credit memos for P3,401,701.00 and P1,615,253.00, respectively. Subsequently, however, PBCom suffered net loss of P25,317,228.00, thereby showing no income tax liability in its Annual Income Tax Returns for the year-ended December 31, 1985. For the succeeding year, ending December 31, 1986, the petitioner likewise reported a net loss of P14,129,602.00, and thus declared no tax payable for the year.

But during these two years, PBCom earned rental income from leased properties. The lessees withheld and remitted to the BIR withholding creditable taxes of P282,795.50 in 1985 and P234,077.69 in 1986. On August 7, 1987, petitioner requested the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, among others, for a tax credit of P5,016,954.00 representing the overpayment of taxes in the first and second quarters of 1985.

Thereafter, on July 25, 1988, petitioner filed a claim for refund of creditable taxes withheld by their lessees from property rentals in 1985 for P282,795.50 and in 1986 for P234,077.69.

Pending the investigation of the respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue, petitioner instituted a Petition for Review on November 18, 1988 before the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA). The petition was docketed as CTA Case No. 4309 entitled: “Philippine Bank of Communications vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue.”

The CTA decided in favor of the BIR on the ground that the Petition was filed out of time as the same was filed beyond the two-year reglementary period. A motion for Reconsideration was denied and the appeal to Court of Appeals was likewise denied. Thus, this appeal to Supreme Court.


Issues:

a) Whether or not Revenue Regulations No. 7-85 which alters the reglementary period from two (2) years to ten (10) years is valid.

b) Whether or not the petition for tax refund had already prescribed.


Ruling:

  1. RR 7-85 altering the 2-year prescriptive period imposed by law to 10-year prescriptive period is invalid.

Administrative issuances are merely interpretations and not expansions of the provisions of law, thus, in case of inconsistency, the law prevails over them. Administrative agencies have no legislative power.

“When the Acting Commissioner of Internal Revenue issued RMC 7-85,

changing the prescriptive period of two years to ten years on claims of excess quarterly income tax payments, such circular created a clear inconsistency with the provision of Sec. 230 of 1977 NIRC. In so doing, the BIR did not simply interpret the law; rather it legislated guidelines contrary to the statute passed by Congress.”

“It bears repeating that Revenue memorandum-circulars are considered administrative rulings (in the sense of more specific and less general interpretations of tax laws) which are issued from time to time by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. It is widely accepted that the interpretation placed upon a statute by the executive officers, whose duty is to enforce it, is entitled to great respect by the courts. Nevertheless, such interpretation is not conclusive and will be ignored if judicially found to be erroneous. Thus, courts will not countenance administrative issuances that override, instead of remaining consistent and in harmony with, the law they seek to apply and implement.”

“Further, fundamental is the rule that the State cannot be put in estoppel by the mistakes or errors of its officials or agents. As pointed out by the respondent courts, the nullification of RMC No. 7-85 issued by the Acting Commissioner of Internal Revenue is an administrative interpretation which is not in harmony with Sec. 230 of 1977 NIRC, for being contrary to the express provision of a statute. Hence, his interpretation could not be given weight for to do so would, in effect, amend the statute.”

  1. By implication of the above, claim for refund had already prescribed.

Since the petition had been filed beyond the prescriptive period, the same has already prescribed. The fact that the final adjusted return show an excess tax credit does not automatically entitle taxpayer claim for refund without any express intent.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals appealed from is AFFIRMED, with COSTS against the petitioner.

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