THE COURT of Tax Appeals (CTA) has granted part of Maersk Global Services Centres (Philippines) Ltd.’s tax refund claim in the amount of P34.61 million representing its excess input value-added tax (VAT) for the taxable year 2015.

In a 25-page petition made public on April 28, the CTA said the shipping firm was able to comply with invoicing requirements under the Tax Code.

In a 2021 decision, the CTA granted Maersk’s claim in the amount of P34.5 million and disallowed P1.84 from its initial claim due to an alleged lack of evidence to substantiate its claim.

“The courts cannot impose any additional requirement that is not provided for by law or merely required by any of the parties to the transaction for the latter’s convenience,” according to the ruling penned by Associate Justice Roman G. Del Rosario.

The tribunal noted the firm’s receipts do not need to be signed by a buyer or client for them to be valid, adding the purpose of a signed receipt is only for the convenience of the seller.

“It is clear that the purpose of the signature is for the buyer to acknowledge the receipt of the goods delivered by the seller,” it said.

The tax court also affirmed the firm’s disallowed zero-rated sales worth P213.64 million due to discrepancies found in the official receipts. It said receipts did not show that they were traced to zero-rated sales.

Under the Tax Code, taxpayers that engage with foreign firms doing business outside the Philippines are entitled to zero-rated sales that do not translate to output tax.

The term “zero-rated sale” must be written on the taxpayer’s official receipts.

The commissioner of internal revenue argued that Maersk’s claimed input tax should have been directly traced to its zero-rated sales for its claim hold ground, which the court disagreed with.

“Nowhere is it stated in Section 112 (A) of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 does input tax claimed must be directly attributable to the taxpayer’s zero-rated sales.”

Under Section 112 (A) of the Tax Code, input tax subject to a tax refund claim must not have been applied against output tax.

“It must be stressed that compliance with all the VAT invoicing requirements provided by tax laws and regulations is mandatory.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez