CTA orders P15.29-M refund to PHL's largest coal firm

April 6, 2012 9:10 pm 

MANILA, April 6 – The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) has ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to refund or issue a tax credit certificate (TCC) worth P15.29 million in favor of Semirara Mining, Inc. (Semirara).

Semirara is the Philippines' current largest coal company.

The BIR is an attached agency of the Department of Finance (DOF).

In a ruling by the CTA en banc penned by Associate Justice Olga Palanca-Enriquez, it dismissed the petition filed by the BIR for lack of merit.

"After a careful examination of the arguments raised in the instant petition, the Court en banc finds that the issues raised by petitioner [BIR] are a mere rehash of the motion for reconsideration…and present no new arguments nor new matters which have not been considered and passed upon by the [CTA] First Division," the CTA said.

The P15.29 million represented the final withholding value-added tax (VAT) on Semirara's sale of coal for the month of January 2007, which the National Power Corp. (Napocor) erroneously withheld and remitted to the BIR on Feb. 9, 2007.

Semirara, which is engaged in the exploration, mining, development and sale of coal resources, supplies the 600- megawatt Calaca Coal-Fired Thermal Power Plant (Calaca).

Calaca was previously owned by Napocor but has been turned over to DMCI Holdings, Inc.

The BIR argued that in order to get a refund, Semirara has to submit several documents and it will be subjected to an administrative investigation.

However, Semirara said that the CTA First Division already disregarded the procedural aspect of their claim for being irrelevant.

In its decision, the CTA said that Semirara is exempt from VAT pursuant to Republic Act 9337 which was promulgated to provide incentives to coal users and operators.

"The grant of respondent Semirara's claim is not founded on mere estoppel on the part of the government but rather on an express grant of exemption," it said.

"The taxpayer expects fair dealing from the Government and the latter has the duty to refund without any unreasonable delay what it has erroneously collected," the CTA said.

"If the state expects its taxpayers to observe fairness and honesty in paying their taxes, it must hold itself against the same standard in refunding excess (or erroneous) payments of such taxes," it said. (PNA)

RMA/PTR

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