Saranggani Rep. and boxer Manny Pacquiao's tax woes continue to mount as other issues come into play.
While Pacquiao continues to contest the Bureau of Internal Revenue's (BIR) assertion that he failed to substantiate his claims that he had paid his taxes in the U.S., a blog post by journalist Raissa Robles speculates that a possible reason why Pacquiao is reticent about submitting his Internal Revenue Service (IRS) papers is that he is the holder of a U.S. green card, which may disqualify him from holding office.
Robles cites as her proof the web site of a prominent U.S. immigration law firm, which identified Pacquiao as a "famous and successful immigrant". The web site has since been revised to omit that bit of information.
Robles also notes that, in a phone interview with one of the firm's founding partners, Richard Wilner, who raised the shield of "privileged information" regarding Pacquiao's possible immigrant status. Robles made an issue of the language Wilner used in their interview, as Wilner labeled the information on his firm's web site as "inaccurate". Robles opined
Also, he had used the word “inaccurate” and not the word “wrong”. The word “inaccurate” covers a vast range of possibilities like “inexact, imprecise, incorrect, wrong, erroneous, careless, faulty, imperfect, flawed, defective, unsound, unreliable.” The word “wrong” simply means that.Moreover, Robles observed that Pacquiao apparently has a testimonial on the law firm's web site, and questions Pacquiao's endorsement of immigration, saying
Why would Manny Pacquiao, who became a Philippine congressman in 2010 and was reelected this year, publicly endorse immigration to the US? Shouldn’t he be saying instead – come to Mindanao? That testimonial is so weird coming from a Philippine government official.If Robles' information is accurate, and Pacquiao is either in possession of a green card, or is pursuing one, it calls into question his election win, since, by Philippine electoral law, a Filipino with permanent residency abroad must renounce the residency in order to qualify as a candidate. Considering that Pacquiao has plans for the presidency in the future, Filipinos have the right to question Pacquiao's qualifications.
As of this writing, Pacquiao's lawyer, Tranquil Salvador, has categorically denied that Pacquiao has a green card; what he does have is a P1 visa, which is given to athletes for competition purposes. So, for now, that's that.
However, another wrinkle in the Pacman's tax saga is an article on TMZ, which, based on supposedly official documents, alleges that Pacquiao owes the IRS $18 million over unpaid taxes from 2006 to 2010. This seems to contradict Top Rank boss Bob Arum's statement that asserts that his company had withheld 30% of Pacquiao's winnings, and paid it to the IRS. Here's the text from Arum's statement:
If the TMZ article is accurate, then it seems that Arum has some explaining to do."For each of Manny’s fights that occurred in the United States, including those in 2008 and 2009, Top Rank withheld 30% of Manny's purses and paid those monies directly to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). Top Rank has deposit confirmations for each payment. Top Rank has done the same for all U.S. endorsements it has facilitated on Manny's behalf."
What I find tragic here is that Pacquiao is not directly responsible for his current situation. Somewhere down the line, his accountants and his lawyers, people who were supposed to keep him informed of his tax status, dropped the ball, and the Pacman is paying the price. Of course, he is still responsible for being aware of his finances, but people whom he had hired to take care of that for him screwed up big time; I wouldn't want to be in their shoes right now.
Attorney Salvador has also denied that the IRS tax situation exists, so it's likely that this saga will continue to unfold over the next few days, or even weeks, as Pacquiao does battle with an enemy he is not likely going to knock out. For his and his family's sake, I hope he can fix his situation with a minimum of fuss.