Manila RTC: Courts have no authority to prevent collection of sin taxes

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A vendor sells cigarettes at a supermarket in Quezon City. AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Manila City Regional Trial Court Branch 17 refused to restrain the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) from enforcing the rules and regulations of Republic Act 10351, or the Sin Tax Law of 2012.

In its ruling dated Jan. 16, the court cited Section 218 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) saying courts have no authority to restrain the collection of taxes.

Section 218 provides that “no court shall have the authority to grant an injunction to restrain the collection of any national internal revenue tax, fee or charge imposed by this Code.”

The court further stated that a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction can be issued only if there is “a clear and unmistakable right to be protected and an urgent necessity to prevent serious damages.”

But in this case, the court said there is an absence of “clear legal right” on the part of the petitioners to be protected over the right of the state to collect taxes.

Petitioners, Distilled Spirits Association of the Philippines Inc.; Destileria Limtuaco & Company Inc.; Emperador Distillers Inc.; and Tanduay Distillers Inc. urged the Manila RTC to strike down Revenue Regulation No. 17-2012 of the Department of Finance and declare some of its provision as null and void for being unconstitutional and contrary to law since it constitutes double taxation on distilled spirits.

Revenue Regulations No. 17-201 prescribes the implementing guidelines on the revised tax rates on alcohol and tobacco products pursuant to the provisions of the Sin Tax Law.

Respondents in the petition were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and BIR Commissioner Kim Henares.

Last December, the BIR issued the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) that would pave the way for the implementation of Republic Act 10351, or An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco.

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