MANILA, Philippines — Despite returning like a hero from beating Brandon Rios over the weekend, Manny Pacquiao said on Tuesday he has no money to keep his promise to help typhoon victims because Philippine revenue authorities have frozen his bank accounts.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue says Pacquiao hasn’t proved he paid taxes in 2008-2009. It has assessed that Pacquiao, once one of the world’s highest paid athletes, owed 2.2 billion pesos (US $50 million) in back taxes as of July.
Pacquiao, the wealthiest member of the Philippine Congress, said on Tuesday he borrowed over 1 million pesos ($22,700) to purchase relief supplies before his fight on Sunday with Rios in Macau and will borrow more to keep his word to typhoon victims. Pacquiao said he plans to provide aid to more than 10,000 families.
Fierce winds and tsunami-like storm surges from Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons on record, demolished entire communities and killed over 5,200 people when it ploughed through the central Philippines. More than 1,600 are missing.
Pacquiao said he paid taxes in the United States following his victories against Ricky Hatton and Oscar de la Hoya and that a treaty prevents double taxation. A criminal case was dropped by prosecutors for alleged unpaid taxes in 2010, but the revenue authorities’ tax claims for the 2008-2009 are still pending.
“I appeal to them to remove the garnishment so that I can move and pay for my staff’s salaries,” Pacquiao told reporters in his southern hometown of General Santos city. “I am not a criminal or a thief.”
He said his wife’s accounts have also been frozen.
Pacquiao said if he had not paid the right taxes in the United States, he would have been arrested during one of his visits there.
“The money that was garnished by [the Bureau of Internal Revenue] is not stolen,” he said. “This came from all of the punches, beatings, blood and sweat that I endured in the ring.”
He said the revenue agency’s claims that he earned more than what he actually did were baseless.
Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, however, said that the only proof Pacquiao has given of his tax payments was a letter from promoter Top Rank and HBO of the taxes he has paid to the United States, but nothing from the US Internal Revenue Service.
“That is self-serving and a mere scrap of paper,” she said. “What he can do is go to the IRS, ask IRS to certify this copy [of his tax payments] as a true copy. We have been waiting for that for two years.”
She said of 22 banks her agency has ordered to report on Pacquiao’s accounts, only two said they held deposits for Pacquiao and that the total was only 1.1 million pesos ($25,200), which is now covered by the garnish.
“It is unbelievable to me that he has only 1.1 million pesos,” Henares said.