By Beatrice M. Laforga

MANILA Cockers Club, Inc. (MCCI) has refuted reports that it has P1.3 billion in unpaid taxes since the case remains under investigation, although it has agreed to settle the penalties and comply with registration requirements for its ticket-dispensing machines, which were earlier sealed for non-registration.

In a letter to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which was obtained by BusinessWorld, MCCI argued that its alleged tax deficiencies “are still in the informal conference stage of the investigation” and that it had not yet received preliminary and final assessment notices from the bureau.

“It is only at that point in time that it can be said that MCCI has been assessed deficiency taxes. Thus, MCCI maintains that the news reports are inaccurate, considering that it has no deficiency taxes,” the document read.

It said it had paid a total of P401.596 million in taxes last year, P145.195 million in 2018, P81.068 million in 2017, P26.065 million in 2016 and P89,908 in 2015.

The BIR reported last week that the company had P1.3 billion in unpaid taxes and that it had no registered automated ticket dispensing machines in any of its 132 locations nationwide.

The bureau sealed 51 machines in some of MCCI’s branches in Quezon City on Thursday, arguing that all businesses need to register their machines as these are used to properly monitor sales and transactions and not doing so will subject companies to penalties and liabilities.

“In keeping with our earnest intention to settle the matter of the non-registration of the ticket dispensing machines, and as a show of good faith, MCCI hereby formally offers to pay the assessment for non-registration of betting machines and undertakes to register said machines forthwith,” the document read.

However, the company argued that its 147 machines used in off-cockpit betting stations are simply betting machines recording “bets and issue tickets as evidence of bets,” and do not issue receipts or invoices “as the amounts paid by bettors are not consideration for any goods sold or compensation for any services rendered.”

“Thus, these machines need not be registered with the BIR,” it said.

Despite this, MCCI said it had agreed to comply with registration requirements and pay necessary fees during its meeting with the BIR-National Investigation Division on March 3.

“Thus, it came as a great surprise when the BIR issued the MO (mission order), and through its agents, proceeded to constructively seize, by sealing, the ticket dispensing machines in the various betting stations,” it said.

According to its website, the company said it is “the only cockfighting event entity that pays taxes due to its legal operations.”

MCCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of the listed company Manila Jockey Club Inc. (MJCI).