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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 119122. August 8, 2000.]

PHILIPPINE BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION, Petitioner, v. COURT OF APPEALS, COURT OF TAX APPEALS, AND COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, Respondents.

D E C I S I O N


PURISIMA, J.:


At bar is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking a review of the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 34095 which affirmed the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals in C.T.A. Case No. 4419.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

The facts that matter are as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

On June 21, 1989, the petitioner received an assessment letter from the Commissioner of Internal Revenue (respondent Commissioner) for the payment of deficiency amusement tax computed thus:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Deficiency Amusement Tax

Total gross receipts 1987 P19,970,928.00

===========

15% tax due thereon 2,995,639.20

Less: Tax paid 602,063.35

—————

Deficiency amusement tax P2,393,575.85

Add: 75% surcharge 1,795,181.89

20% interest (2 years) 1,675,503.10

—————

Total Amount Due & Collectible P5,864,260.84

===========

On July 18, 1989, petitioner contested the assessment by filing a protest with respondent Commissioner who denied the same on November 6, 1989.chanrobles virtual law library

On January 8, 1990, petitioner filed a petition for review 2 with the Court of Tax Appeals (respondent CTA) questioning the denial by respondent Commissioner of its tax protest.

On December 24, 1993, respondent CTA dismissed petitioner’s petition, holding:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"WHEREFORE, in all the foregoing, herein petition for review is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit and the Petitioner is hereby ORDERED to PAY to the Respondent the amount of P5,864,260.84 as deficiency amusement tax for the year 1987 plus 20% annual delinquency interest from July 22, 1989 which is the due date appearing on the notice and demand of the Commissioner (i.e. 30 days from receipt of the assessment) until fully paid pursuant to the provisions of Sections 248 and 249 (c) (3) of the Tax Code, as amended." 3

Petitioner presented a motion for reconsideration 4 of the said decision but the same was denied by respondent CTA in a resolution 5 dated April 8, 1994. Thereafter and within the reglementary period for interposing appeals, petitioner appealed the CTA decision to the Court of Appeals.

On November 21, 1994, the Court of Appeals rendered its questioned Decision, 6 affirming the decision of the CTA and dismissing petitioner’s appeal. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of said decision but to no avail. The same was denied by the Court of Appeals in a Resolution 7 dated January 31, 1995. Hence, this petition.

Undaunted, petitioner found its way to this Court via the present petition, contending that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. Respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that the jurisdiction to collect amusement taxes of PBA games is vested in the national government to the exclusion of the local governments.

"2. Respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that Section 13 of the Local Tax Code of 1973 limits local government units to theaters, cinematographs, concert halls, circuses and other places of amusement in the collection of the amusement tax.

"3. Respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that Revenue Regulations No. 8-88 dated February 19, 1988 is an erroneous interpretation of law.chanrob1es virtua1 law library

"4. Respondent Court of Appeals erred in giving retroactive effect to the revocation of Revenue Regulations 8-88.

"5. Respondent Court of Appeals erred when it failed to consider the provisions of P.D. 851 the franchise of Petitioner, Section 8 of which provides that amusement tax on admission receipts of Petitioner is 5%.

"6. Respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that the cession of advertising and streamer spaces in the venue to a third person is subject to amusement taxes.

"7. Respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that the cession of advertising and streamer spaces inside the venue is embraced within the term ‘gross receipts’ as defined in Section 123 (6) of the Tax Code.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

"8. Respondent Court of Appeals erred in holding that the amusement tax liability of Petitioner is subject to a 75% surcharge."cralaw virtua1aw library

The issues for resolution in this case may be simplified as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. Is the amusement tax on admission tickets to PBA games a national or local tax? Otherwise put, who between the national government and local government should petitioner pay amusement taxes?

2. Is the cession of advertising and streamer spaces to Vintage Enterprises, Inc. (VEI) subject to the payment of amusement tax?

3. If ever petitioner is liable for the payment of deficiency amusement tax, is it liable to pay a seventy-five percent (75%) surcharge on the deficiency amount due?

Petitioner contends that PD 231, otherwise known as the Local Tax Code of 1973, transferred the power and authority to levy and collect amusement taxes from the sale of admission tickets to places of amusement from the national government to the local governments. Petitioner cited BIR Memorandum Circular No. 49-73 providing that the power to levy and collect amusement tax on admission tickets was transferred to the local governments by virtue of the Local Tax Code; and BIR Ruling No. 231-86 which held that "the jurisdiction to levy amusement tax on gross receipts from admission tickets to places of amusement was transferred to local governments under P.D. No. 231, as amended." 8 Further, petitioner opined that even assuming arguendo that respondent Commissioner revoked BIR Ruling No. 231-86, the reversal, modification or revocation cannot be given retroactive effect since even as late as 1988 (BIR Memorandum Circular No. 8-88), respondent Commissioner still recognized the jurisdiction of local governments to collect amusement taxes.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

The Court is not persuaded by petitioner’s asseverations.

The laws on the matter are succinct and clear and need no elaborate disquisition. Section 13 of the Local Tax Code provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"SECTION 13. Amusement tax on admission. — The province shall impose a tax on admission to be collected from the proprietors, lessees, or operators of theaters, cinematographs, concert halls, circuses and other places of amusement . . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

The foregoing provision of law in point indicates that the province can only impose a tax on admission from the proprietors, lessees, or operators of theaters, cinematographs, concert halls, circuses and other places of amusement. The authority to tax professional basketball games is not therein included, as the same is expressly embraced in PD 1959, which amended PD 1456 thus:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"SECTION 44. Section 268 of this Code, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

‘Sec. 268. Amusement taxes. — There shall be collected from the proprietor, lessee or operator of cockpits, cabarets, night or day clubs, boxing exhibitions, professional basketball games, Jai-Alai, race tracks and bowling alleys, a tax equivalent to:chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

‘1. Eighteen per centum in the case of cockpits;

‘2. Eighteen per centum in the case of cabarets, night or day clubs;

‘3. Fifteen per centum in the case of boxing exhibitions;

‘4. Fifteen per centum in the case of professional basketball games as envisioned in Presidential Decree No. 871. Provided, however. That the tax herein shall be in lieu of all other percentage taxes of whatever nature and description;

‘5. Thirty per centum in the case of Jai-Alai and race tracks; and

‘6. Fifteen per centum in the case of bowling alleys of their gross receipts, irrespective of whether or not any amount is charged or paid for admission. For the purpose of the amusement tax, the term gross receipts’ embraces all the receipts of the proprietor, lessee or operator of the amusement place. Said gross receipts also include income from television, radio and motion picture rights, if any. (A person or entity or association conducting any activity subject to the tax herein imposed shall be similarly liable for said tax with respect to such portion of the receipts derived by him or it.)chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

‘The taxes imposed herein shall be payable at the end of each quarter and it shall be the duty of the proprietor, lessee, or operator concerned, as well as any party liable, within twenty days after the end of each quarter, to make a true and complete return of the amount of the gross receipts derived during the preceding quarter and pay the tax due thereon. If the tax is not paid within the time prescribed above, the amount of the tax shall be increased by twenty-five per centum, the increment to be part of the tax.

‘In case of willful neglect to file the return within the period prescribed herein, or in case a false or fraudulent return is willfully made, there shall be added to the tax or to the deficiency tax, in case any payment has been made on the basis of the return before the discovery of the falsity or fraud, a surcharge of fifty per centum of its amount. The amount so added to any tax shall be collected at the same time and in the same manner and as part of the tax unless the tax has been paid before the discovery of the falsity or fraud, in which case, the amount so assessed shall be collected in the same manner as the tax." (Emphasis ours)

From the foregoing it is clear that the "proprietor, lessee or operator of . . . professional basketball games" is required to pay an amusement tax equivalent to fifteen per centum (15%) of their gross receipts to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which payment is a national tax. The said payment of amusement tax is in lieu of all other percentage taxes of whatever nature and description.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw library

While Section 13 of the Local Tax Code mentions "other places of amusement", professional basketball games are definitely not within its scope. Under the principle of ejusdem generis, where general words follow an enumeration of persons or things, by words of a particular and specific meaning, such general words are not to be construed in their widest extent, but are to be held as applying only to persons or things of the same kind or class as those specifically mentioned. 9 Thus, in determining the meaning of the phrase "other places of amusement", one must refer to the prior enumeration of theaters, cinematographs, concert halls and circuses with artistic expression as their common characteristic. Professional basketball games do not fall under the same category as theaters, cinematographs, concert halls and circuses as the latter basically belong to artistic forms of entertainment while the former caters to sports and gaming.

A historical analysis of pertinent laws does reveal the legislative intent to place professional basketball games within the ambit of a national tax. The Local Tax Code, which became effective on June 28, 1973, allowed the province to collect a tax on admission from the proprietors, lessees, or operators of theaters, cinematographs, concert halls, circuses and other places of amusement. On January 6, 1976, the operation of petitioner was placed under the supervision and regulation of the Games and Amusement Board by virtue of PD 871, with the proviso (Section 8) that." . . all professional basketball games conducted by the Philippine Basketball Association shall only be subject to amusement tax of five per cent of the gross receipts from the sale of admission tickets." Then, on June 11, 1978, PD 1456 came into effect, increasing the amusement tax to ten per cent, with a categorical referral to PD 871, to wit," [t]en per centum in the case of professional basketball games as envisioned in Presidential Decree No. 871 . . ." Later in 1984, PD 1959 increased the rate of amusement tax to fifteen percent by making reference also to PD 871. With the reference to PD 871 by PD 1456 and PD 1959, there is a recognition under the laws of this country that the amusement tax on professional basketball games is a national, and not a local, tax. Even up to the present, the category of amusement taxes on professional basketball games as a national tax remains the same. This is so provided under Section 125 10 of the 1997 National Internal Revenue Code. Section 140 11 of the Local Government Code of 1992 (Republic Act 7160), meanwhile, retained the areas (theaters, cinematographs, concert halls, circuses and other places of amusement) where the province may levy an amusement tax without including therein professional basketball games.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Likewise erroneous is the stance of petitioner that respondent Commissioner’s issuance of BIR Ruling No. 231-86 12 and BIR Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 8-88 13 — both upholding the authority of the local government to collect amusement taxes — should bind the government or that, if there is any revocation or modification of said rule, the same should operate prospectively.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

It bears stressing that the government can never be in estoppel, particularly in matters involving taxes. It is a well-known rule that erroneous application and enforcement of the law by public officers do not preclude subsequent correct application of the statute, and that the Government is never estopped by mistake or error on the part of its agents. 14

Untenable is the contention that income from the cession of streamer and advertising spaces to VEI is not subject to amusement tax. The questioned proviso may be found in Section 1 of PD 1456 which states:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"SECTION 1. Section 268 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1977, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

‘Sec. 268. Amusement taxes. — There shall be collected from the proprietor, lessee or operator of cockpits, cabarets, night or day clubs, boxing exhibitions, professional basketball games, Jai-Alai, race tracks and bowling alleys, a tax equivalent to:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

x       x       x


of their gross receipts, irrespective of whether or not any amount is charged or paid for admission. For the purpose of the amusement tax, the term gross receipts’ embraces all the receipts of the proprietor, lessee or operator of the amusement place. Said gross receipts also include income from television, radio and motion picture rights, if any. (A person, or entity or association conducting any activity subject to the tax herein imposed shall be similarly liable for said tax with respect to such portion of the receipts derived by him or it.)" (Emphasis ours)

The foregoing definition of gross receipts is broad enough to embrace the cession of advertising and streamer spaces as the same embraces all the receipts of the proprietor, lessee or operator of the amusement place. The law being clear, there is no need for an extended interpretation. 15

The last issue for resolution concerns the liability of petitioner for the payment of surcharge and interest on the deficiency amount due. Petitioner contends that it is not liable, as it acted in good faith, having relied upon the issuances of the respondent Commissioner. This issue must necessarily fail as the same has never been posed as an issue before the respondent court. Issues not raised in the court a quo cannot be raised for the first time on appeal. 16

All things studiedly considered, the Court rules that the petitioner is liable to pay amusement tax to the national government, and not to the local government, in accordance with the rates prescribed by PD 1959.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED, and the Decisions of the Court of Appeals and Court of Tax Appeals dated November 21, 1994 and December 24, 1993, respectively AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

Panganiban and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.

Melo and Vitug, JJ., concur in the result.

Endnotes:



1. Penned by Associate Justice Pedro A. Ramirez and concurred by Associate Justices Quirino D. Abad Santos, Jr. and Eugenio S. Labitoria.

2. Rollo, pp. 44-62.

3. CTA Decision penned by Associate Judge Ramon O. de Veyra and concurred by Presiding Judge Ernesto D. Acosta and Associate Judge Manuel K. Gruba; Rollo, pp. 70-78.

4. Rollo, pp. 79-89.

5. Ibid., p. 90.

6. Ibid., pp. 33-40.

7. Ibid., p. 43.

8. See also BIR Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 8-88.

9. PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 297 SCRA 402, 422 citing: Republic v. Migriño, 189 SCRA 289, 296-297.

10. SEC. 125. Amusement taxes. — There shall be collected from the proprietor, lessee or operator of cockpits, cabarets, night or day clubs, boxing exhibitions, professional basketball games, Jai-Alai and race tracks, a tax equivalent to:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

a) Eighteen percent (18%) in the case of cockpits;

b) Eighteen percent (18%) in the case of cabarets, night or day clubs;

c) Ten percent (10%) in the case of boxing exhibitions, provided, however, that boxing exhibitions wherein World or Oriental Championships in any division is at stake shall be exempt from amusement tax; provided, further, that at least one of the contenders for World or Oriental Championship is a citizen of the Philippines and said exhibitions are promoted by a citizen/s of the Philippines or by a corporation or association at least sixty percent (60%) of the capital of which is owned by such citizens;

d) Fifteen percent (15%) in the case of professional basketball games as envisioned in Presidential Decree No. 871; provided, however, that the tax herein shall be in lieu of all other percentage taxes of whatever nature and description; and

e) Thirty percent (30%) in the case of Jai-Alai and race tracks of their gross receipts, irrespective of whether or not any amount is charged for admission.

For the purpose of the amusement tax, the term "gross receipts" embraces all the receipts of the proprietor, lessee or operator of the amusement place. Said gross receipts also include income from television, radio and motion picture rights, if any. A person or entity or association conducting any activity subject to the tax herein imposed shall be similarly liable for said tax with respect to such portion of the receipts derived by him or it.

The taxes imposed herein shall be payable at the end of each quarter or month and it shall be the duty of the proprietor, lessee or operator concerned, as well as any party liable, within twenty (20) days after the end of each quarter, to make a true and complete return of the amount of the gross receipts derived during the preceding quarter and pay the tax due thereon. (Effective January 1, 1998)

11. SEC. 140. Amusement Tax. — (a) The province may levy an amusement tax to be collected from the proprietors, lessees, or operators of theaters, cinemas, concert halls, circuses, boxing stadia, and other places of amusement at a rate of not more than thirty percent (30%) of the gross receipts from admission fees.

(b) In the case of theaters or cinemas, the tax shall first be deducted and withheld by their proprietors, lessees, or operators and the distributors of the cinematographic films.

(c) The holding of operas, concerts, dramas, recitals, painting and art exhibitions, flower shows, musical programs, literary and oratorical presentations, except pop, rock, or similar concerts shall be exempt from the payment of the tax herein imposed.

(d) The sangguniang panlalawigan may prescribe the time, manner, terms and conditions for the payment of tax. In case of fraud or failure to pay the tax, the sangguniang panlalawigan may impose such surcharges, interests and penalties as it may deem appropriate.

(e) The proceeds from the amusement tax shall be shared equally by the province and the municipality where such amusement places are located.

12." . .

. . . this Office is of the opinion and hereby holds that the jurisdiction to levy amusement tax on gross receipts from admission tickets to places of amusement was indeed transferred to local government under P.D. No. 231, as amended. . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

13.." . . the sole jurisdiction for collection of amusement tax on admission receipts in places of admission rests exclusively on the local government to the exclusion of the national government."cralaw virtua1aw library

14. E. Rodriguez, Inc. v. Collector of Internal Revenue, 28 SCRA 1119; United Christian Missionary Society v. Social Security Commission, 30 SCRA 982.

15. Domingo v. Commission on Audit, 297 SCRA 163; Republic v. Court of Appeals, 299 SCRA 199.

16. Ruby Industrial Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 284 SCRA 445; Salao v. Court of Appeals, 284 SCRA 493; Heirs of Pascasio Uriarte v. Court of Appeals, 284 SCRA 511.

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