Unitop pays P50M to stop BIR from closing its stores

Posted on November 21, 2011

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Retailer only declared 70% of actual sales; owes gov’t P97M in taxes
 
A retail store with 40 outlets nationwide including Cebu and Bohol narrowly escaped having all its outlets locked up yesterday by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Owners made a swift P50-million partial payment in the BIR main office in Manila to cover a P97-million tax obligation.

The BIR ordered the closure of Unitop General Merchanise Inc. outlets including five in Cebu and Bohol after the management reportedly declared only 70 percent of its actual sales—a violation of the revenue regulation.

The closure order was signed on Nov. 18 by Deputy Commissioner for Operations Nelson Aspe. It was received in Cebu last Friday.

Unitop has outlets in Cebu City, Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City, Tabunok in Talisay City and one in Tagbilaran City in Bohol.

The store, which has its head office in Valenzuela City, Metro Manila sells affordable materials including houseware, clothes and school supplies.

BIR Region 13 Director Rodita Galanto was ready to enforce the closure order against five outlets of Unitop General Merchandise Inc. and called for a press conference at 9 a.m. yesterday.

But just as the BIR Oplan Kandado team in Cebu was about to pounce, Galanto put it off after she received a call from the office of Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares who ordered her not to enforce the order.

“We were ready to implement the order, but we got a call telling us to hold enforcement,” she said in a phone interview.

Galanto said a Unitop representative met with Henares yesterday and assured to pay the P97 million tax obligation by installment.

She said the company paid P50 million yesterday morning.

Galanto said she would wait for further instructions from the BIR central office.

The management reportedly declared only about 70 percent of its actual sales, but Galanto said she could not give the actual figures underdeclared by branches in Cebu and Bohol as the surveillance was conducted before she was assigned to BIR Region 13 based in Cebu City.

Galanto was assigned here last September.

She said that surveillance was usually conducted for 15 successive days and the surveillance report would be forwarded to the BIR Central Office.

“Iba ang sales nila sa idiniklara nila sa income tax at iba din ang sales nila sa surveillance ng BIR,” Galanto said. (There are discrepancies in the sales they declared in the income tax and during the BIR surveillance.)

Cebu Daily News contacted Unitop General Merchandise Corp. in Cebu but the management declined to comment on the issue.

Odie Alpas, a staff member in Unitop’s Cebu City office, said they were still coordinating with their lawyer from Manila before they would issue any statement.

Unitop is a Manila-based corporation with 40 branches nationwide including Cebu, Davao, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro, Palawan, Dumaguete and Tagbilaran. /Aileen Garcia-Yap, Candeze R. Mongaya and Jhunnex Napallacan

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