Court convicts Dela Fuente, bus firm

The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) has convicted a bus operator and its responsible officer for tax violations after more than 10 years since the information were filed on Jan. 5, 2009.

Found guilty beyond reasonable doubt was Philippine Corinthian Liner Corp. (PCLC), and Clarita de Guzman, also known as Clarita “Claire” dela Fuente, the firm’s vice president, treasurer and manager, in a decision on June 30 but made available to media only on Wednesday.

PCLC was charged for violating Sections 75 (Declaration of Quarterly Corporate Income Tax), 76 (Final Adjustment Return), and 255 (Willful Failure to File Income Tax Returns), in relation to Sections 256 (Penal Liability of Corporations) and 253 (Penalty in the Case of Corporations), of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.

For each of the seven consolidated cases, Dela Fuente was sentenced to suffer the straight penalty of imprisonment of one year, and ordered to pay a fine of ₱50,000, with subsidiary imprisonment, pursuant to Sec. 280 of the Tax Code.

PCLC was likewise found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Sec. 255 in relation to Sec. 256 of the Tax Code, and for each of the seven consolidated cases, it was ordered to pay a fine of ₱100,000.

Incorporated on Nov. 18, 1996, PCLC is a domestic corporation engaged in transport and shuttle service, business carriers, hauling, vulcanizing, auto repair, auto-building, manufacture, fabrication of chassis body and other auto parts and accessories.

The company and Dela Fuente were charged for violation of the Tax Code for operating business without making and filing income tax returns for the years 1998 to 2004.

The tax court held that all of the evidence and documents presented by the prosecution from different government agencies “unequivocally show that PCLC conducted business operations from 1998 to 2004 despite Dela Fuente’s claim that PCLC did not conduct any business operations during the subject period, and it only began operations in 2005.”

The agencies include the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Securities and Exchange Commission, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulator Board and Land Transportation Office.

Further, evidence likewise show that PCLC failed to declare its income quarterly and to make or file its annual income tax return for taxable years 1998 to 2004.

The court further held that PCLC had knowledge of the obligation to file the required returns and voluntarily failed to comply with such obligation.

“The mindset of willfulness, as opposed to mere inadvertence, is established in PCLC’s attempt to cover up the failure to comply with its tax obligation by belatedly registering with the BIR on January 27, 2005 and presenting spurious returns to give the impression that they were filed,” the court said.

The court likewise ruled that Dela Fuente is a responsible officer of PCLC, and said that the former singer-actress consistently represented herself as either president or general manager of PCLC.

“Without a doubt, she was well aware that operations were being conducted by PCLC, either through themselves or the small bus operators who were using the franchises granted exclusively to PCLC,” the CTA said.

“Consequently, Dela Fuente cannot escape the consequences of being a responsible officer, agent or employee of PCLC and must be held liable for its crimes,” the court said.

Topics: Court of Tax Appeals , Clarita “Claire” dela Fuente , Philippine Corinthian Liner Corp , Bureau of Internal Revenue , Securities and Exchange Commission , Land Transportation Franchising and Regulator Board , Land Transportation Office
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