Ex Chief Justice Corona hit with tax evasion

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) today filed a criminal complaint with the Department of Justice against former Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice RENATO C. CORONA (CORONA) for willful attempt to evade or defeat tax and for deliberate failure to file his Income Tax Returns (ITRs), for taxable years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010, in violation of Section 254 and Section 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended (Tax Code).

Using copies of his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN), Certificates Authorizing Registration (CAR) and their corresponding Deeds of Sale, and Bank Accounts, the BIR established that CORONA undervalued three (3) of his properties by P17.30 million, failed to declare two (2) properties valued at P12.75 million, and underdeclared the value of his cash asset in his SALNs from 2003 to 2010 with the cash underdeclaration reaching P134.44 million in 2010. These findings were used by the BIR to arrive at his Actual Networth for each year of the period 2002 to 2010.

Likewise, an evaluation and comparison of the income earned by CORONA as per Alphalists filed by the SC as against his true networth showed that he deliberately failed to declare his true income for taxable years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010. The said alphalists contain, among others, the names of employees, the amount of compensation income received, and the amount of taxes withheld.

The discrepancy between CORONA’s declared income per alphalists (P26.45 million) and the substantial increases in his true net worth (P161.15 million) revealed that he earned more than what was declared in the said alphalists. In other words, this discrepancy implies that he earned income from other sources aside from his compensation as a public official.

As a government official receiving purely compensation income, CORONA is not required to file an ITR under the “substituted filing” scheme of the BIR. But when CORONA receives other income payments aside from his compensation income from the SC, he can no longer avail of the substituted filing scheme and is thus required to file an Annual ITR.

However, despite the receipt of substantial amounts of income as shown by the significant increase in his networth, acquisition of numerous properties and bank accounts containing large sums of money, CORONA repeatedly failed to file his Annual ITRs.

Using the Net Worth Method of tax investigation, the unreported income of CORONA was established by comparing the increase in his net worth with his reported taxable income over time, enabling the BIR to hold CORONA liable for a total deficiency tax in the amount of P120.5 million, inclusive of surcharges and interests, covering taxable years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010.

The case against RENATO C. CORONA is the 124th filed under the Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program of the BIR under the leadership of Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares.