BIR sends notices to wrong address, loses P1.7B tax case versus real estate firm

Because the notices were sent to the wrong address and received by the wrong people, the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) has canceled the government’s P1.73-billion tax assessment against real estate firm Fort 1 Global City Center, Inc.

In a recent 19-page decision, the CTA 2nd Division granted Fort 1’s petitions against the deficiency tax assessments of P1.6 billion and P134.1 million for the years 2009 and 2012.

Although Fort 1 was able to protest the tax imposition, the CTA said the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) still violated its right to due process because of the improper service of the assessment notices.

“The conclusion can be made that no valid assessment was issued by respondent as petitioner did not receive the same,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Cielito Mindaro-Grulla.

The court noted that Fort 1’s registered address in its general information sheet (GIS) in 2016 was “Unit 2C-B, FPS Building, 1st Avenue corner 30th Street, Global City, Taguig City.”

But, the subpoena duces tecum, preliminary assessment notice (PAN), formal assessment notice (FAN), and final decision on disputed assessment (FDDA) for the year 2009 all contained the address “30th St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.” The exact building was not specified.

Meanwhile, the PAN, FAN, and letters of authority (LA) contained a different address, “32nd St. Corner Boni Blvd. Global City Taguig City.”

The court pointed out that neither were ever declared as the company’s registered address or known address.

It also noted that the personal service of the notices was not done upon the company’s authorized representatives. This was based on the cross-examination of the BIR’s own witnesses.

Revenue Officer Gigette Ventura could not remember if she was the one who served the 2009 notices, much more if the person who received it was a receptionist of the company or just the building.

Meanwhile, Revenue Officer Abdulhalim Usman admitted that he merely asked the security guard to bring the 2012 notices to the authorized person because he was not allowed to go upstairs.

The “stamp received” in the notices also did not reflect the designation or authority of the persons who received them. Moreover, the BIR could

“Respondent’s witnesses themselves clearly admitted that they have not confirmed or even inquired into the authority of the persons who allegedly received the notices,” the decision read.

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