CD: CIR v. Aichi Forging Company of Asia, Inc.

November 23, 2010 at 7:01 pm (2010, Case Digests) (, , )

CIR v. AICHI FORGING COMPANY OF ASIA, INC.
G.R. No. 184823 October 6, 2010
Del Castillo, J.

Doctrine:
– The CIR has 120 days, from the date of the submission of the complete documents within which to grant or deny the claim for refund/credit of input vat. In case of full or partial denial by the CIR, the taxpayer’s recourse is to file an appeal before the CTA within 30 days from receipt of the decision of the CIR. However, if after the 120-day period the CIR fails to act on the application for tax refund/credit, the remedy of the taxpayer is to appeal the inaction of the CIR to CTA within 30 days.

– A taxpayer is entitled to a refund either by authority of a statute expressly granting such right, privilege, or incentive in his favor, or under the principle of solutio indebiti requiring the return of taxes erroneously or illegally collected. In both cases, a taxpayer must prove not only his entitlement to a refund but also his compliance with the procedural due process.

– As between the Civil Code and the Administrative Code of 1987, it is the latter that must prevail being the more recent law, following the legal maxim, Lex posteriori derogat priori.

– The phrase “within two (2) years x x x apply for the issuance of a tax credit certificate or refund” under Subsection (A) of Section 112 of the NIRC refers to applications for refund/credit filed with the CIR and not to appeals made to the CTA.

Facts:
Petitioner filed a claim of refund/credit of input vat in relation to its zero-rated sales from July 1, 2002 to September 30, 2002. The CTA 2nd Division partially granted respondent’s claim for refund/credit.

Petitioner filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration, insisting that the administrative and the judicial claims were filed beyond the two-year period to claim a tax refund/credit provided for under Sections 112(A) and 229 of the NIRC. He reasoned that since the year 2004 was a leap year, the filing of the claim for tax refund/credit on September 30, 2004 was beyond the two-year period, which expired on September 29, 2004. He cited as basis Article 13 of the Civil Code, which provides that when the law speaks of a year, it is equivalent to 365 days. In addition, petitioner argued that the simultaneous filing of the administrative and the judicial claims contravenes Sections 112 and 229 of the NIRC. According to the petitioner, a prior filing of an administrative claim is a “condition precedent” before a judicial claim can be filed.

The CTA denied the MPR thus the case was elevated to the CTA En Banc for review. The decision was affirmed. Thus the case was elevated to the Supreme Court.

Respondent contends that the non-observance of the 120-day period given to the CIR to act on the claim for tax refund/credit in Section 112(D) is not fatal because what is important is that both claims are filed within the two-year prescriptive period. In support thereof, respondent cited Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Victorias Milling Co., Inc. [130 Phil 12 (1968)] where it was ruled that “if the CIR takes time in deciding the claim, and the period of two years is about to end, the suit or proceeding must be started in the CTA before the end of the two-year period without awaiting the decision of the CIR.”

Issues:
1. Whether or not the claim for refund was filed within the prescribed period
2. Whether or not the simultaneous filing of the administrative and the judicial claims contravenes Section 229 of the NIRC, which requires the prior filing of an administrative claim, and violates the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies

Held:
1. Yes. As ruled in the case of Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Mirant Pagbilao Corporation (G.R. No. 172129, September 12, 2008), the two-year period should be reckoned from the close of the taxable quarter when the sales were made.

In Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Primetown Property Group, Inc (G.R. No. 162155, August 28, 2007, 531 SCRA 436), we said that as between the Civil Code, which provides that a year is equivalent to 365 days, and the Administrative Code of 1987, which states that a year is composed of 12 calendar months, it is the latter that must prevail being the more recent law, following the legal maxim, Lex posteriori derogat priori.

Thus, applying this to the present case, the two-year period to file a claim for tax refund/credit for the period July 1, 2002 to September 30, 2002 expired on September 30, 2004. Hence, respondent’s administrative claim was timely filed.

2. Yes. We find the filing of the judicial claim with the CTA premature.

Section 112(D) of the NIRC clearly provides that the CIR has “120 days, from the date of the submission of the complete documents in support of the application [for tax refund/credit],” within which to grant or deny the claim. In case of full or partial denial by the CIR, the taxpayer’s recourse is to file an appeal before the CTA within 30 days from receipt of the decision of the CIR. However, if after the 120-day period the CIR fails to act on the application for tax refund/credit, the remedy of the taxpayer is to appeal the inaction of the CIR to CTA within 30 days.

Subsection (A) of Section 112 of the NIRC states that “any VAT-registered person, whose sales are zero-rated or effectively zero-rated may, within two years after the close of the taxable quarter when the sales were made, apply for the issuance of a tax credit certificate or refund of creditable input tax due or paid attributable to such sales.” The phrase “within two (2) years x x x apply for the issuance of a tax credit certificate or refund” refers to applications for refund/credit filed with the CIR and not to appeals made to the CTA.

The case of Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Victorias Milling, Co., Inc. is inapplicable as the tax provision involved in that case is Section 306, now Section 229 of the NIRC. Section 229 does not apply to refunds/credits of input VAT.

The premature filing of respondent’s claim for refund/credit of input VAT before the CTA warrants a dismissal inasmuch as no jurisdiction was acquired by the CTA.

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