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2003 biggest taxpayers in the entertainment industry

2003 biggest taxpayers in the entertainment industry
PRESIDENTIAL candidate Fernando Poe Jr. hardly qualifies as the king of Philippine movies if tax payment is the yardstick.

The actor paid less than 80,000 pesos in income tax in 2002 or just about 3 percent of his more than 3 million pesos in gross earnings, giving him the 56th slot in the list of the biggest taxpayers in the entertainment industry.

In contrast, most of those on the top 20 list of tax payers in show business paid taxes equivalent to 20 percent of their total earnings. Some exceeded the 32-percent maximum income tax rate imposed by law.

In 2001, Poe paid more than 1.5 million pesos in income tax and ranked fifth in an updated listing of show business' top 20 taxpayers in which "megastar" Sharon Cuneta dislodged comedy king Dolphy from the No. 1 slot.

Even if Poe combined his individual income tax with that of his movie outfit (FPJ Productions paid more than 400,000 pesos in taxes in 2002), he would not make it to the top 20 list. The top 20 list was based on individual declarations of entertainers.

Rod Reyes, chief of Poe's media bureau, said Sunday he had yet to check with Poe on why the opposition's presidential candidate paid less taxes in 2003. But he said he could only surmise that Poe's earnings in 2003 were not that much as in the previous year.

His income might have dropped last year," Reyes said in a phone interview. He noted that one of Poe's movies, which also starred billiards king Efren "Bata" Reyes, did not earn well.

Reyes, a former press secretary, said one of Poe's sources of income was the showing of his movies on television

In 2002, Poe's movies were shown on GMA 7, but this was no longer the case last year. "That might explain it," he said.

The action king's tax ranking dropped tremendously at a time when entertainers were forced to pay higher taxes. The Bureau of Internal Revenue doubled the withholding tax rate for entertainers in late 2001 to 20 percent from 10 percent.

Starting this year, however, the withholding tax rate will be at 15 percent for all professionals, including entertainers who had objected to the high rate.

Entertainers were also required, starting 2003, to pay the 10-percent value-added tax.

Of the more than 200 entertainers, only about 70 have filed their taxes in 2002, based on BIR research.

Some, especially those with other businesses, may have filed their taxes through a corporation, according to a government source. If they did so, it would be harder to get information on their tax payments.

Most, however, have continued to evade tax payments given the flexible nature of the tax system for professionals or those who earn talent fees. Regular wage earners can hardly evade taxes as their obligations are withheld by their employer before they receive compensation.

Unlike compensation workers, the government depends on professionals earning talent or consultancy fees to declare their earnings, hoping they will do so honestly.

The only income the government can easily verify are those covered by a withholding tax because a third-party, say a company like McDonald's, declares as expenditure the payment for Sharon Cuneta's endorsement of its products.

But earnings not covered by receipts, such as a performance in a fiesta where even a two-bit singer can earn more than 50,000 pesos for a few songs, are still beyond the reach of the BIR.

Cuneta paid more than 10 million pesos in income taxes in 2002, from about 5 million pesos in 2001.

Another big product endorser, actor Aga Muhlach, climbed to the No. 2 spot after paying more than 7 million pesos in 2002, up from about 2 million pesos the previous year.

For 2002, Dolphy paid more than 3 million pesos in income tax, up from about 2 million pesos a year ago. He was followed by singer Martin Nievera, who paid almost 3 million pesos.

Paying almost 3 million pesos, actor-spouses Lorna Tolentino and Rudy Fernandez ranked fifth, a big jump from the 11th place the previous year when they paid less than 900,000 pesos.

Soap opera princess Claudine Barreto debuted on the top 6th after paying more than 2.5 million pesos in 2002. She was not on the list the previous year. So was comedian Ai-Ai delas Alas, who made it to seventh place in 2002. Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski and sexy star Rosanna Roces made it to the eigth and ninth place, respectively.

Delas Alas paid more than 2 million pesos and Cojuangco, almost 2 million pesos, representing 39 percent of her about 5 million pesos income. Roces paid more than 1.5 million pesos.

From seventh place in 2001, popular game host Kris Aquino dropped to the 10th spot although her tax payment improved from a little more than 1 million pesos the previous year to more than 1.5 million pesos in 2002. Aquino was the top taxpayer in year 2000.

Singer Regine Velasquez is in eleventh place and young actress Judy Ann Santos is in 12th place followed Aquino with payments of about 1.5 million pesos. Both were not on the 2001 list.

Brothers Randy and Raymart Santiago remained on the Top 20 list. 13th place Randy paid a little less than 1.5 million pesos, just like Angelu de Leon who ranked at top 14, while Raymart ranked 15th together with Ara Mina ranked 16th, 17 placer Ogie Alcasid, 18 placer Piolo Pascual, 19 placer Edu Manzano and completing the top 20 is Rica Peralejo who paid more than 1 million pesos.

Curiously though, entertainers starting from Randy who ranked 13th down to Peralejo at the 20th place paid less taxes but earned more compared with Cojuangco, Roces, Aquino and Velasquez.

Out from the 2001 list were Cesar Montano, Robin Padilla, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Charo Santos, Edgar Mortiz, Paulo Bediones, Vic Sotto, Donita Rose and Miriam Quiambao.

Sotto ranked 21st in the 2002 listing. He paid slightly more than 1 million pesos in taxes from less than 700,000 pesos the year before.

BIR Commissioner Guillermo Parayno Jr. denied any knowledge of the tax payment of entertainers.

"The bureau is bound by secrecy and confidentiality. We do not make any such listing of entertainers or anybody," said Parayno when asked about the tax payments of show business personalities.
Of the 2,605,505 individual taxpayers in 2001, only 525,760 were classified as professionals and self-employed, while the rest were compensation earners. In 2000, only 28,915 were classified as professionals. The rest were self-employed.

Sharon Cuneta
Aga Mulach
Martin Nievera
Lorna Tolentino & Rudy Fernandez
Claudine Barreto
Ai-Ai delas Alas
Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski
Rosanna Roces
Kris Aquino
Regine Velasquez
Judy Ann Santos
Randy Santiago
Angelu de Leon
Raymart Santiago
Ara Mina
Ogie Alcasid
Piolo Pascual
Edu Manzano
Rica Peralejo


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