Comelec spox clarifies decision on penalty for not filing ITR

The spokesperson of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) clarified that the decision of the First Division did not say that there is no penalty for not filing an income tax return (ITR). This is related to dismissing the disqualification case against presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Based on the said division’s decision, it noted Marcos’ failure to file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985 was not a crime that could be considered “moral turpitude,” which is one of the grounds for disqualifying a candidate.

According to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, there were statements on the decision that were not completed when released by other people, so it appeared that the meaning was different.

The issue is mainly concerned with the penalty for not filing the ITR.

“What they’re doing is that they’re taking that particular line out of context ‘di ba? Sinabi talaga ‘yan. The decision does say that but the decision was saying that in the context trying to explain between a crime mala in se versus mala prohibitum,” said Jimenez in a  virtual presser on Friday.

“This is a very important criminal law principle. What it says is that a crime mala in se is a crime that is by itself naturally wrong. For example murder, you don’t need a law to tell you that murder is wrong. But there are some offenses that are mala prohibita, which means they are considered wrong under the law, only because a special law exists that criminalizes it,” said Jimenez.

Comelec spox clarifies decision on penalty for not filing ITR

He continued, “For example, cutting down a tree, cutting down a tree is not inherently wrong but because there’s a law that says cutting down a tree is wrong then it becomes wrong.”

Jimenez insisted that it is wrong to say that the Comelec announced that there is no penalty in law for not filing an ITR, so it is okay not to file an ITR.

“The Comelec is not saying that failure to file an ITR is okay because it is not. Also, very important to emphasize, failure to file an ITR is not in itself necessarily tax evasion, these are two different offenses punished differently under the law,” according to Jimenez.

The spokesperson added that if examined, the poll body allegedly mentioned the law against not filing the ITR.

“Even in the decision itself, the Comelec points out that in fact, a special law was passed to penalize failure to file ITR. So it is wrong to say that the Comelec is saying that there is no offense to failure to file ITR because the Comelec said there is,” Jimenez promised.

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