By Vann Marlo M. Villegas

THE Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) affirmed the denial of the refund claim of Duty Free Philippines Corp. worth P156.5 million.

In a four-page resolution on Dec. 13, the court, sitting en banc, denied for lack of merit the motion for reconsideration of Duty Free.

The court said the arguments raised by Duty Free were already discussed in its previous decision.

“After a careful consideration and evaluation of the parties’ respective arguments, the Court finds that the arguments raised in DFPC’s Motion for Reconsideration are mere rehash of its arguments in its Petition for Review, and have already been amply discussed, passed upon and considered by this Court in the Assailed Decision sought to be reconsidered,” the court said.

“Clearly, there is no cogent reason to disturb the assailed Decision,” it added.

Duty Free, an office attached to the Department of Tourism, is claiming refund over the value-added tax it paid on its importation of alcohol and tobacco in 2014.

The court en banc in its decision in July 2019 dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the petition for review of the corporation, affirming the May 2018 decision and July 2018 resolution of its second division.

Duty Free reiterated that the court has jurisdiction over the case and the Supreme Court decision, which said that disputes between government agencies are to be settled by the Justice secretary, the Office of the Solicitor General, or the Government Corporate Counsel, is not applicable to the case.

It said the case of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management and the Bureau of Internal Revenue before the High Court involving a dispute over a memorandum of agreement and the collection of the bureau was not based on a tax assessment.

However, the court said a more recent decision of the High Court ruled that tax disputes solely between government entities is covered by Presidential Decree No. 242, which prescribes procedure on settlement of disputes and claims between government offices, and must be resolved by the Justice secretary.

Section 2 of PD No. 242 states that all cases involving questions of law should be submitted to the secretary.

The solicitor general will resolve cases of both questions of fact and law between government departments or offices while the Government Corporate Counsel settles claims between government-owned and controlled corporations or entities served by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, under Section 3 of the law.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Cielito N. Mindaro-Grulla penned the resolution.

Associate Justice Maria Rowena Modesto-San Pedro dissented on the resolution, saying the Supreme Court has declared that not all disputes between government are under PD 242, and administrative settlement under the decree must be related to interpretation and application of statutes, contracts or agreements and other cases that are similar in nature.

She stated that tax disputes are not similar to the said cases, considering settlement of tax issues are not under PD 242.