CD: CIR v. BPI

September 2, 2010 at 11:55 am (2009, Case Digests) (, )

CIR v. BPI
G.R. No. 178490 July 7, 2009
Chico-Nazario, J.

Doctrine:
1. The phrase “for that taxable period” merely identifies the excess income tax, subject of the option, by referring to the taxable period when it was acquired by the taxpayer.

2. When circumstances show that a choice has been made by the taxpayer to carry over the excess income tax as credit, it should be respected; but when indubitable circumstances clearly show that another choice, a tax refund, is in order, it should be granted. As to which option the taxpayer chose is generally a matter of evidence.

“Technicalities and legalisms, however exalted, should not be misused by the government to keep money not belonging to it and thereby enrich itself at the expense of its law-abiding citizens.”

Facts:
In filing its Corporate Income Tax Return for the Calendar Year 2000, BPI carried over the excess tax credits from the previous years of 1997, 1998 and 1999. However, BPI failed to indicate in its ITR its choice of whether to carry over its excess tax credits or to claim the refund of or issuance of a tax credit certificate.

BPI filed with the Commissioner of Internal Revenue (CIR) an administrative claim for refund. The CIR failed to act on the claim for tax refund of BPI. Hence, BPI filed a Petition for Review before the CTA, whom denied the claim.

The CTA relied on the irrevocability rule laid down in Section 76 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997, which states that once the taxpayer opts to carry over and apply its excess income tax to succeeding taxable years, its option shall be irrevocable for that taxable period and no application for tax refund or issuance of a tax credit shall be allowed for the same.

The Court of Appeals reversed the CTA decision stating that there was no actual carrying over of the excess tax credit, given that BPI suffered a net loss in 1999, and was not liable for any income tax for said taxable period, against which the 1998 excess tax credit could have been applied.

The Court of Appeals further stated that even if Section 76 was to be construed strictly and literally, the irrevocability rule would still not bar BPI from seeking a tax refund of its 1998 excess tax credit despite previously opting to carry over the same. The phrase “for that taxable period” qualified the irrevocability of the option of BIR to carry over its 1998 excess tax credit to only the 1999 taxable period; such that, when the 1999 taxable period expired, the irrevocability of the option of BPI to carry over its excess tax credit from 1998 also expired.

Issue:
1. What is the period captured by the irrevocability rule?
2. Whether or not the taxpayer’s failure to mark the option chosen is fatal to whatever claim

Held:
1. The last sentence of Section 76 of the NIRC of 1997 reads: “Once the option to carry-over and apply the excess quarterly income tax against income tax due for the taxable quarters of the succeeding taxable years has been made, such option shall be considered irrevocable for that taxable period and no application for tax refund or issuance of a tax credit certificate shall be allowed therefor.” The phrase “for that taxable period” merely identifies the excess income tax, subject of the option, by referring to the taxable period when it was acquired by the taxpayer.

In the present case, the excess income tax credit, which BPI opted to carry over, was acquired by the said bank during the taxable year 1998. The option of BPI to carry over its 1998 excess income tax credit is irrevocable; it cannot later on opt to apply for a refund of the very same 1998 excess income tax credit.

2. No. Failure to signify one’s intention in the FAR does not mean outright barring of a valid request for a refund, should one still choose this option later on. The reason for requiring that a choice be made in the FAR upon its filing is to ease tax administration (Philam Asset Management, Inc. v. CIR G.R. No. 156637 and No. 162004, 14 December 2005). When circumstances show that a choice has been made by the taxpayer to carry over the excess income tax as credit, it should be respected; but when indubitable circumstances clearly show that another choice – a tax refund – is in order, it should be granted. Therefore, as to which option the taxpayer chose is generally a matter of evidence.

“Technicalities and legalisms, however exalted, should not be misused by the government to keep money not belonging to it and thereby enrich itself at the expense of its law-abiding citizens.”

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