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BIR to go after Alice Guo’s tax records, possible tax evasion

Philippine Daily Inquirer June 08,2024 - 08:22 AM

Alice Guo BIR


The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will investigate embattled Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo and her companies for possible tax evasion, the revenue chief said on Friday.

BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. said his agency will fully cooperate with a Senate inquiry into Guo, whose citizenship and wealth have become the center of controversy following a raid on a Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) company on a property that she claimed to have owned.


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“I have commanded the whole BIR to cooperate with the Senate and look into the mentioned names of individuals and entities as well as their accumulated wealth,” Lumagui said on a statement on Friday.

Earlier this week, an official from the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) told reporters that a tax evasion case was being readied in relation to the mayor’s connections to the Pogo in her town.

The internal revenue agency will also investigate the people and entities mentioned during the Senate hearings.

“If the BIR finds that tax evasion has been committed, the BIR will proceed with all necessary enforcement activities, including the potential filing of tax evasion cases,” Lumagui said.

10 companies

He said that due process will be followed in the investigation as the BIR looks into whether the declared incomes match the value of the properties accumulated during the same taxable years. If they don’t, criminal tax evasion cases will be filed against those found liable for the offense.

“The same charges can be filed against conspirators and the corporate officers of the companies used to amass such wealth,” Lumagui said.

Guo told senators that she was a businesswoman who grew up and was home-schooled in a farm in Bamban.

A Senate document listed at least 10 companies owned by Guo and her family, including a smelting plant; 21 vehicles, among them several SUVs; and a helicopter which Guo said she had already sold but still appears in documents as its owner. The list included six individuals linked to her, one of them the alleged owner of a McLaren 620R, a P32-million luxury sports car, which she said she had borrowed for display in her town.

Guo urged to cooperate

Sen. Risa Hontiveros welcomed the BIR’s move and urged Guo to cooperate.“I thank the government agencies for their initiatives in exacting accountability,” Hontiveros said. “My advice to Mayor Alice Guo: Come clean. She should tell the truth before it’s too late.”

Guo, 38, was elected mayor of the second-class municipality in 2022.

The Office of the Ombudsman suspended her for six months for alleged wrongdoing in connection with the operation of the Pogo company Zun Yuan Technology in her town. Allegations of human trafficking and illegal detention prompted PAOCC to raid the company in March and “rescued” 371 Filipinos and 497 foreigners, mostly Chinese.

Undeclared sources

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who disclosed that law enforcement agencies had found that local politicians and businessmen were conspiring with foreign crime syndicates that were allegedly funding Pogos, commended the BIR for its “proactive action.”

“During the last hearing, we pointed out that the declared income of Guo’s companies are not commensurate to [her] assets and investments,” Gatchalian told reporters in a Viber message group.

“This is an indication that there are external sources [of funds] that [are] not declared in their company’s tax returns,” he said.

The senator estimated that the cost of the construction of 37 buildings and the development of the 7.9-hectare Bamban property which Guo said she had bought from various landowners would amount to at least P6.1 billion.

Gatchalian earlier said that Guo and members of her family were involved in hog raising, slaughterhouse operation, food, embroidery, and real estate.

He said, however, that the declared earnings of Guo’s family-owned businesses were not enough for her to buy luxury cars, expensive jewelry, designer bags, a helicopter, and the property in Bamban that hosted the Pogo complex.

Hontiveros also flagged the glaring discrepancies in Guo’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

In her SALN dated June 30, 2022, the controversial mayor declared assets worth P429 million.

But in another SALN she submitted just a day later, her declared wealth dropped to P286 million after she deleted several properties and companies.

Disparities in SALNs

Pressed by Hontiveros to explain the disparities in her SALNs during the Senate hearing on May 22, Guo said that she was not familiar with the preparation of the document since it was her first time to submit a detailed report about her assets.

Guo added that it was her accountant and counsel who prepared her SALN.

“We just filed an amendment to the [first] SALN,” the mayor told Hontiveros.

Guo has not spoken publicly about the allegations against her since May 22.

Denying the charges against her by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, she appealed the Ombudsman’s suspension order on Thursday. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH 

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TAGS: Alice Guo, tax evasion, taxes

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