Philippines Tax Authority Wants to Publish Names of Biggest Taxpayers - But Their Tax Code Declares Identities a Trade Secret
Interesting issue out of the Philippines. Leonard Vinz O. Ignacio has authored a piece noting that their Bureau of Internal Revenue has decided to publish, in honor, the names of the country's biggest taxpayers "to serve as a model for others to emulate and follow." Sort of a hall-of-fame list of taxpayers.
BUT, WAIT A MINUTE, says Mr. Ignacio - the code does not permit for this. He cites the following tax code paragraphs:
"SECTION 270. Unlawful Divulgence of Trade Secrets. -- Except as provided in Section 71 of this Code and Section 26 of Republic Act No. 6388, any officer or employee of the Bureau of Internal Revenue who divulges to any person or makes known in any other manner than may be provided by law information regarding the business, income, or estate of any taxpayer, the secrets, operation, style or work, or apparatus of any manufacturer or producer, or confidential information regarding the business of any taxpayer, knowledge of which was acquired by him in the discharge of his official duties, shall, upon conviction for each act or omission, be punished by a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000, or suffer imprisonment of not less than two years but not more than five years, or both."
"SECTION 278. Procuring Unlawful Divulgence of Trade Secrets. -- Any person who causes or procures an officer or employee of the Bureau of Internal Revenue to divulge any confidential information regarding the business, income or inheritance of any taxpayer, knowledge of which was acquired by him in the discharge of his official duties, and which it is unlawful for him to reveal, and any person who publishes or prints in any manner whatever, not provided by law, any income, profit, loss or expenditure appearing in any income tax return, shall be punished by a fine of not more than P2,000, or suffer imprisonment of not less than six months nor more than five years, or both."
He argues the listing of the country's biggest taxpayers is an invasion of their privacy and an express violation of the tax code itself. Interesting argument - and we'd have to agree that the listed code sections make it seem as if their Bureau of Internal Revenue has got this one exactly wrong. We note we've never encountered this "tax information as trade secrets" issue before but learn something new all the time on this blog.