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Manny Pacquiao has bank accounts frozen over tax

Filipino boxer says move will not stop him helping Typhoon Haiyan survivors

Gulf News

Manila: Internationally renowned boxer and Filipino congressman Manny Pacquiao has said he will proceed with his plan to assist victims of Typhoon Haiyan in central Philippines even if the Bureau of Internal Revenue has ordered the freezing of his bank accounts.

“Why should the Court of Tax Appeal freeze my accounts? I am not a thief,” Pacquiao said in a radio interview.

Earlier, Pacquiao said he would donate tents for survivors of the typhoon that hit Samar, Leyte, parts of Panay island, the Bicol region, and southern Philippines. He did not reveal the amount of his donation.

The boxer could borrow money to assist survivors in Leyte, if he is denied access to his bank accounts, a spokesman said in another radio interview.

Pacquiao won an estimated $18 million (Dh66,000,000) during a bout with Brandon Rios for the WBO international welterweight title fight in Macau on Sunday. It was organised by the Home Box Office (HBO) and Top Rank Promotions.

Pacquiao sealed his reputation as a sporting hero after he won the international welterweight title bout. Before the bout, he had vowed to win the title for the typhoon victims in central Philippines.

Instead of landing in Manila to attend a proposed championship welcome ceremony for him on Monday, Pacquiao and his wife went home straight to Sarangani, southern Philippines, his wife’s hometown. He represents a Sarangani district in the House of Representatives.

The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) has ordered the freezing of Pacquiao’s bank accounts in connection with a P2.2-billion (Dh183.3 million) tax case he is facing before the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Pacquiao’s accountant failed to report in his income tax returns (ITR) the multi-million-dollar taxes collected by the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for his earnings in boxing bouts in the US in 2008 and 2009, the BIR said in the case filed against Pacquiao.

In defence, Pacquiao’s lawyers said the boxer paid P12 million (Dh1 million) to the BIR for his earnings in 2008 and 2009.

He was not also obliged to declare his earnings abroad during those years because the United States and the Philippines have a bilateral tax treaty agreement, in which taxes paid in the US should no longer be paid in the Philippines, said his lawyers.

But the BIR argued that all Filipino citizens must declare their earnings locally and from abroad in their respective income tax returns.

CTA’s freeze order was made a week ago but publicly announced on Tuesday.