Philippines. Court of Tax Appeals decides to return erroneously collected excise tax to San Miguel Brewery

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The Court of Tax Appeals has directed the Bureau of Internal Revenue to return over P699 million “erroneously” collected excise tax to San Miguel Brewery, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corp, The Standard reported on December 18.

In an 18-page order, the tax court en banc upheld the previous decision of the Third Division that San Miguel Light should not be subject to higher excise tax rate because it was a new product.

Contrary to BIR’s revised classification, the court said SML was not a variant of the old San Miguel Pale Pilsen that would subject it to a higher tax bracket.

San Miguel Brewery paid the tax in protest in 2010 to be able to withdraw from warehouses and distribute the product.

The tax court said San Miguel Light was different from San Miguel Pale Pilsen since it was labeled by the manufacturer as a new fermented liquor.

According to the CTA, the size, shape, and color of the two products were different.

It said San Miguel Light was introduced in the market between January 1997 to December 2003, the BIR classified it then as a new brand.

Pursuant to Section 143 of the Tax Code, the court said the classification by the BIR could not be revised except by legislation, hence its lower tax schedule cannot be unilaterally prescribed by the BIR.