James Bitanga, Maria Ressa snub Rappler’s P133M tax evasion probe in DOJ
Rappler Holdings Corp. (RHC) officers did not show up during Tuesday’s preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the tax evasion complaint filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for allegedly failing to pay P133 million in taxes.
Facing tax evasion raps are RHC president Maria A. Ressa and treasurer James C. Bitanga for violation of Sections 254 and 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) for willful attempt to evade or defeat tax, and for deliberate failure to supply correct and accurate information in its annual income tax return (ITR) and value-added tax (VAT) returns for 2015.
During the hearing, Assistant State Prosecutor Zenamar Machacon-Caparros said Ressa and Bitanga were represented by their lawyers who sought for an extension to submit the counter-affidavit because they did not receive the BIR’s complaint.
Caparros gave a copy of the complaint to the respondents’ lawyers and scheduled the preliminary investigation at 11 a.m. on May 7, where Ressa and Bitanga are set to file their counter-affidavit to the complaint.
Based on the BIR complaint filed last March 8, RHC purchased common shares from Rappler, Inc. worth P19,245,975. It then issued and sold Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) to two foreign firms worthHP181,658,758.
The BIR alleged that the company was liable for non-payment of P133,841,305 — broken down into P91,320,481 in income tax and P42,520,824 in VAT — for 2015.