The billions of pesos in tax deficiencies of the Marcos family have been kept under the radar for decades until details were unearthed by one of the opponents of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for the presidency.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said last week that the properties of the Marcos family would be auctioned off to help settle their tax deficiencies, now totaling PHP203 billion (US$4.06 billion), according to Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez.

He said, “BIR will consolidate the titles in favor of the government on those properties which have been levied upon.”

Dominguez added that “the procedure may take time as it involves selling at public auction to convert to cash.”

Aside from various real estate properties, the government will also auction off the jewelry collection of former first lady Imelda Marcos, which had been sequestered by the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

The BIR’s move to auction the properties came in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte asking the tax collecting agency why it had failed to collect the estate taxes due the government.

Speaking for the family, Sen. Imee Marcos said they were willing to pay the original amount, but considered the penalties as too harsh as these had jacked up the original tax due tenfold.

The original assessment was PHP23 billion back in 1997 but this has since ballooned to PHP203 billion (US$4.06 billion) at the present time.

She, however, asked why the issue was brought to the fore during her brother’s presidential run, saying it was a case of “bad timing.”

For her part, Imelda Marcos said she had never received any demand letter from the government asking her family to settle their obligations.

Marcos Jr. said “there’s a lot of fake news” where his family’s tax obligations were due.
While the Supreme Court decided with finality that the tax due was final and executory, the Marcos camp said the PHP180 billion (US$3.6 billion) in penalties and surcharges was still subject to reconciliation.

President Duterte said the BIR “need not be reminded” about its mandate to collect the long overdue estate taxes from the Marcos family.

He said the government can only prod the BIR, as there was no need for reminders.

The Finance Department said the estate tax from the Marcoses would be an additional source of revenue for the cash-strapped government which has been spending heavily to address the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the current oil crisis and rising prices of basic consumer goods.

It was presidential bet Isko Moreno of Aksyon Demokratiko who had fanned the unpaid estate tax of the Marcoses into a hot issue.

Moreno said if Marcos Jr. won, his family’s tax liabilities would very likely be swept under the rug.

Moreno’s party wrote to BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay last March 14 to confirm the reports that the Bureau had been communicating with the Marcos family to settle their tax liabilities.

The BIR chief confirmed the report.

Besides Moreno, other presidential bets including Leni Robredo, Ping Lacson and Leody de Guzman said that the Marcoses should settle their tax liabilities soonest.

The camp of Marcos Jr., however, insists that the amount due has not been settled with finality, as they have questioned before the Supreme Court what they consider as unfair penalties accrued over the decades.

Retired SC associate justice Antonio Carpio also warned that the Marcoses would not only fail to pay their taxes if Marcos Jr won but the remaining cases to recover their patriarch’s ill-gotten wealth would likewise be abandoned.

Acting presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said the President was not singling out the Marcos family for their unpaid taxes.

Andanar said, “the BIR should run after everyone who does not pay, because the national government needs additional funds.”