CD: Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Mc.George Food Industries, Inc.

August 11, 2015 at 10:10 am (2010) (, )

CIR v. MC.GEORGE FOOD INDUSTRIES, INC.
G.R. No. 174157 October 20, 2010
Carpio, J.

Doctrine:
Pursuant to the general rule on the prospective application of laws, the 1997 NIRC operates to govern the conduct of corporate taxpayers the moment it took effect on 1 January 1998.

Facts:
On 15 April 1998, respondent filed with the BIR its final adjustment income tax return for the calendar year ending 31 December 1997. The return indicated a net overpayment of P4,736,188. Exercising its option to either seek a refund of this amount or carry it over to the succeeding year as tax credit, respondent chose the latter, indicating in its 1997 final return that it wished the amount “to be applied as credit to next year.”

On 15 April 1999, respondent filed its final adjustment return for the calendar year ending 31 December 1998, indicating a tax liability of P5,799,056. Instead of applying to this amount its unused tax credit carried over from 1997 (P4,736,188), respondent merely deducted from its tax liability the taxes withheld at source for 1998 and paid the balance of P5,581,877.

On 14 April 2000, respondent simultaneously filed with the BIR and the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) a claim for refund of its overpayment in 1997 of P4,736,188. The CTA held that refund was proper because respondent complied with the requirements of timely filing of the claim and its substantiation.

Petitioner sought reconsideration, contending that respondent is precluded from seeking a refund for its overpayment in 1997 after respondent opted to carry-over and apply it to its future tax liability, following Section 76 of the 1997 NIRC. Petitioner claimed that Section 76 applies to respondent because by the time respondent filed its final adjustment return for 1997 on 15 April 1998, the 1997 NIRC was already in force, having taken effect on 1 January 1998.

The CTA denied reconsideration, holding that the 1997 NIRC only covers transactions done after 1 January 1998.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the CTA, ruling that the right to claim for refund or tax credit must be governed by the law in effect at the time the excess credits were earned. Thus, the pertinent law applicable to the case at bar is Section 69 of the old Tax Code.

Issue:
Whether or not the 1997 NIRC is the governing law

Held:
Yes. Section 76 of the 1997 NIRC controls.

Section 76 should be applied following the general rule on the prospective application of laws such that they operate to govern the conduct of corporate taxpayers the moment the 1997 NIRC took effect on 1 January 1998.

The lower courts grounded their contrary conclusion on the fact that respondent’s overpayment in 1997 was based on transactions occurring before 1 January 1998. This analysis suffers from the twin defects of missing the gist of the present controversy and misconceiving the nature and purpose of Section 76. None of respondent’s corporate transactions in 1997 is disputed here. Nor can it be argued that Section 76 determines the taxability of corporate transactions. To sustain the rulings below is to subscribe to the untenable proposition that, had Congress in the 1997 NIRC moved the deadline for the filing of final adjustment returns from 15 April to 15 March of each year, taxpayers filing returns after 15 March 1998 can excuse their tardiness by invoking the 1977 NIRC because the transactions subject of the returns took place before 1 January 1998. A keener appreciation of the nature and purpose of the varied provisions of the 1997 NIRC cautions against sanctioning this reasoning.

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