BIR slaps P133.8M tax evasion case vs. Rappler's parent firm and Maria Ressa

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 8) — The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) filed a tax evasion case against Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) on Thursday.

BIR filed the criminal complaint against RHC, its president Maria Ressa, and treasurer James Bitanga before the Department of Justice.

RHC is the parent company of online news site Rappler Incorporated whose primary purpose is to buy and sell real and personal properties, according to the BIR.

In a statement, it said there was "deliberate failure" by RHC to provide correct information in its income tax return and value added tax (VAT) in 2015.

It said RHC bought shares amounting to P19.25 million from Rappler Incorporated and then issued and sold Philippine Depository Receipts (PDRs) worth P181M to two foreign entities.

BIR said no income tax and VAT were paid by RHC in 2015 for the income it gained in the PDR transactions.

"As a consequence of its acts and omissions, the aggregate tax liability of RHC amounted to P133,841,305," BIR said.

Ressa called the complaint "ludicrous."

Rappler insisted it pays taxes accurately, promptly, and diligently.

"This is clear intimidation and harassment. The government is wasting its energy and resources in an attempt to silence reporting that do not please the administration," Ressa said.