'Most trusted' Philippine celebrity faces tax probe

'Most trusted' Philippine celebrity faces tax probe
The headquarters of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

What do Richard Yap and Jodi Sta. Maria (who had played popular characters "Ser Chief" and "Maya" in a long-running daytime soap), "teen queen" Kathryn Bernardo, "primetime queen" Marian Rivera, as well as couple Carmina Villaroel and Zoren Legaspi have in common?

According to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), these six show biz personalities, alongside Paulo Avelino, Enrique Gil (who currently plays "Xander" in the popular teleserye "Forevermore"), "dance princess" Maja Salvador and Julia Montes were among the 32 "most trusted" endorsers in 2013. But the BIR was curious to know, why were these trusted endorsers not among the top celebrity taxpayers that year?

Citing a 2013 survey conducted by Stratpolls Inc. (now Data Advisors), the BIR noted in a "Tax Watch" advertisement published on Wednesday that the 10 stars were not among the top individual taxpayers that year, while 22 other "most trusted" celebrity endorsers were among those who shelled out the highest amount of taxes two years ago.

The top male endorsers who also ranked high in the BIR list were Vic Sotto (top 53 among individual taxpayers), Coco Martin (52nd), John Lloyd Cruz (15th), Daniel Padilla (443rd), Robin Padilla (190th), Piolo Pascual (14th), Vice Ganda (228th), Michael V (93rd), Willie Revillame (20th), Derek Ramsay (157th), Dingdong Dantes (101st) and Manny Pacquiao (1st).

"People's champ" Pacquiao, who will face undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Sunday (Manila time) in the most anticipated boxing match of this era, paid P163.8 million in income tax in 2013.

The top female endorsers who paid the biggest taxes in 2013 included: Kris Aquino (16th), Anne Curtis (36th), Sarah Geronimo (99th), Judy Anne Santos (44th), Kim Chiu (205th), Angel Locsin (261st), Sharon Cuneta (19th), Ai-Ai Delas Alas (317th), KC Concepcion (237th) and Toni Gonzaga (253rd).

The BIR, however, noted that the Stratpolls survey results had been "based on popularity and consumer trust, not the number of actual endorsements or pay."

Rivera, whose husband Dantes was earlier reported to possibly run for the Senate under the Liberal Party next year, as well as Villaruel and Legaspi-who the BIR slapped with a tax evasion case last year-were likewise cited in the ad as having had landed in a poll of top endorsers released by Inquirer Business Friday in 2013. Presidential sister Kris was the top endorser in the Inquirer survey, which also included other top taxpayers such as Cruz, Chiu, Pascual, Santos, Curtis, Geronimo, both the elder and younger Padillas, Concepcion and Michael V.

The BIR noted that of its 500 top individual taxpayers in 2013, only 39 celebrities made it to the list.

In the advertisement, the BIR asked: "Did the country's top celebrities pay the right taxes?"

It noted that "the biggest stars ought to shine brightest. Not all of us are celebrities. [But] each one of us can be nation builders."


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