BIR explains why Forbes richest Filipinos not among top taxpayers
On the Bureau of Internal Revenue's newly released list of the country's top ten tax payers are a motley mix of fortunate Filipinos—the president's kid sister, a finance executive, a banker, a pawnshop-chain owner, and a TV station's chairman.
Who's missing are whom one would expect—the country's richest individuals. Or at least those named by Forbes Magazine on their widely circulated annual list of wealthiest Filipinos.
In fact, none of the so-called "taipans," mostly Chinese-Filipino tycoons, who dominate the Forbes roster ended up on the BIR's top ten index, based on income tax returns.
In Forbes’ Top 40 richest Filipinos for 2011, mall tycoon Henry Sy, Sr. was tagged as the richest man in the Philippines with a networth of $7.2 billion. He was followed by Lucio Tan, who has interests in banking, airline and liquor, with a networth of $2.8 billion. John Gokongwei Jr., with holdings in aviation, financial services and food and beverage, came in third with a networth of $2.4 billion. None of them figured in the BIR's top ten.
Except for pawnshop magnate Philippe J. Lhuillier, none of the familiar names from the Spanish-Filipino aristocracy were on the BIR's top ten list either.
Should suspicions be aroused by this discrepancy? Not necessarily, according to BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, who clarified that the two lists measure different sources of wealth, income versus assets.
BIR based its 2011 list on who paid the highest income tax, while Forbes looked mostly at their registered assets that include shares of stocks, other investments and, when available, proof of income.
Henares cited the case of the Ayalas, saying if they are receiving compensation from their company, even if they are earning something higher than what Kris Aquino makes, for example in terms of dividends which are no longer covered in the ITR because the the final income tax has already been deducted.
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, who ranked 23rd in 2010, and Fernando M. Zobel de Ayala (37th) were missing from the 2011 list.
In a separate text message, Henares also said most businessmen are employed by their companies, which substitute filing their income tax returns.
Here is the list showing the top 500 individual taxpayers in 2011.
For non-individual taxpayers, telecom giant Smart Communications Inc. snatched the top ranking after paying P10.24 billion in 2011, followed by Meralco paying P8.03 billion and Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. paying P6.39 billion.
Here is the list of corporations who paid the highest income tax in 2011.