Court of Tax Appeals  convicts singer Claire dela Fuente for tax evasion, imposes seven-year imprisonment

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Singer  Claire dela Fuente was convicted by the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) of seven counts of tax evasion as officer-in-charge of bus company Philippine Corinthian Liner Corporation (PCLC) over non-payment of P165 million worth of income tax from 1998 to 2004.

The CTA, in  a 205-page ruling, sentenced Dela Fuente to a seven-year jail time and a P350,000 fine.

It also fined PCLC P700,000 for “never complying with their tax obligation from 1998 to 2004,” given that the bus company was only registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on January 27, 2005.

“Accused 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 CTA said in its decision.

Claire was known as one of the “Jukebox Queens” of the 1970s together with Imelda Papin, Didith Reyes and Eva Eugenio.

She is dubbed as the “Karen Carpenter of the Philippines” due to her Carpenter-like “sweet” voice as can be heard from her hit song “Sayang.”

“No physical returns were actually filed by the accused PCLC for the previous years. More than that, the returns they presented to give the impression that they were filed were, in truth, spurious,” the CTA ruling read.

On top of absence of documents, the CTA invoked the admission made by Dela Fuente that PCLC was only registered with the BIR in 2005 which is in violation of National Internal Revenue Code, as well as her testimony before the court that she has been given the “power of the purse” to settle any and all claims against PCLC which necessarily includes claims by the government as regards unpaid taxes.

The  CTA junked the defense’s claim that PCLC did not have business operations from 1998 to 2004, citing certifications made by the BIR in those years.

“Numerous certifications proving that PCLC has not filed any returns, whether they be Quarterly Income Tax Returns or its Annual Income Tax Returns for the subject periods, necessarily point to non-payment of the tax as mandated by Sections 75 and 76 of the National Internal Revenue Code which violations accused is also charged with,” the CTA said.

“It is without a doubt that accused Dela Fuente was well-aware that operations were being conducted by PCLC, either through themselves or the smaller bus operators who were using the franchises granted exclusively to PCLC, especially since most, if not all, LTFRB (Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board) and LTO (Land Transportation Office) approvals granted to PCLC were indeed facilitated by her,” the CTA also said./Stacy Ang

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