by Elaine Ramos Alanguilan
Actress and celebrity endorser Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo is set to appear before the Court of Tax Appeals today to answer the tax evasion case filed against her by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
The BIR filed the suit before the Justice department in October 2005 for failing to supply correct and accurate information for the taxable year 2002.
Santos-Agoncillo is one of the highest paid actresses and talents in big budget advertising and election campaigns.
The bureau’s assessment of her total tax liability at the time was P2.7 million.
Before her marriage to actor Ryan Agoncillo in 2009, Judy Ann appeared in a public service commercial of Manila Electric Co. to explain systems losses to consumers.
In the 2004 mid-term elections, she endorsed Senator Jamby Madrigal in her successful bid for a legislative seat.
The Supreme Court in 2008 upheld the tax evasion charges, ordering the tax court to proceed with the case.
Tax evasion cases above P1 million go to the tax appellate court while those worth P1 million and below are first tried at the regular courts.
If convicted under section 255 of the National Internal Revenue Code, or for failure to supply correct and accurate information, Agoncillo faces a jail term of one to 10 years and a fine of at least P10,000 in addition to the unpaid taxes, including interests and surcharge.
BIR expects to increase its income tax take from professionals such as lawyers, doctors and artists to P192 billion this year from last year’s P160 billion.
The agency started its Run After Tax Evaders program in 2005 and has filed 63 tax evasion cases worth over P26 billion under the Aquino administration.