May 7, 2018 @ 14:55

Calling a crime by another name: Maria Ressa dismisses Rappler’s tax evasion case as harassment

Rappler’s Maria Ressa on Monday reiterated that the P133-million tax evasion suit filed against the popular online news outfit was just a political harassment.

“This is another instance where you have a case of political harassment because we’re journalists trying to do our jobs,” she told reporters.

Ressa issued the statement shortly after filing a joint counter-affidavit before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in response to the tax evasion complaint filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) against Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) and its executives.

“This claim, this charge, is absolutely false. I’ve called it ludicrous. I’ve called it ridiculous. I’ve said that it shows ill intent of intimidation and harassment or just plain incompetence,” Ressa said.

“I appeal to their sense of upholding the Constitution and letting journalists do their jobs,” she added.

The BIR sued Rappler and its officers for failing to pay P133 million in taxes.

Named respondents in the complaint were 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.

The BIR alleged that the company is liable for non-payment of PHP133,841,305 — broken down into PHP91,320,481 in income tax and PHP42,520,824 in VAT — for the year 2015.

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