CIR v. Lincoln Phil Life - Automatic Increase Clause

379 SCRA 423 (2002)


>  In the years prior to 1984, Lincoln issued a special kind of life insurance policy known as the "Junior Estate Builder Policy," the distinguishing feature of which is a clause providing for an automatic increase in the amount of life insurance coverage upon attainment of a certain age by the insured without the need of issuing a new policy. The clause was to take effect in the year 1984.

>  Documentary stamp taxes due on the policy were paid to the petitioner only on the initial sum assured.

>  Subsequently, petitioner issued deficiency documentary stamps tax assessment for the year 1984, corresponding to the amount of automatic increase of the sum assured on the policy issued by respondent.

>  Lincoln questioned the deficiency assessments and sought their cancellation in a petition filed in the Court of Tax Appeals.  CTA found no basis for the assessment.  CA affirmed.


Whether or not the automatic increase of the sum assured on the policy is taxable.



CIR claims that the "automatic increase clause" in the subject insurance policy is separate and distinct from the main agreement and involves another transaction; and that, while no new policy was issued, the original policy was essentially re-issued when the additional obligation was assumed upon the effectivity of this "automatic increase clause" in 1984; hence, a deficiency assessment based on the additional insurance not covered in the main policy is in order.  The SC agreed with this contention.

The subject insurance policy at the time it was issued contained an "automatic increase clause." Although the clause was to take effect only in 1984, it was written into the policy at the time of its issuance. The distinctive feature of the "junior estate builder policy" called the "automatic increase clause" already formed part and parcel of the insurance contract, hence, there was no need for an execution of a separate agreement for the increase in the coverage that took effect in 1984 when the assured reached a certain age.

It is clear from Section 173 of the NIRC that the payment of documentary stamp taxes is done at the time the act is done or transaction had and the tax base for the computation of documentary stamp taxes on life insurance policies under Section 183 of NIRC is the amount fixed in policy, unless the interest of a person insured is susceptible of exact pecuniary measurement.

Logically, we believe that the amount fixed in the policy is the figure written on its face and whatever increases will take effect in the future by reason of the "automatic increase clause" embodied in the policy without the need of another contract.

Here, although the automatic increase in the amount of life insurance coverage was to take effect later on, the date of its effectivity, as well as the amount of the increase, was already definite at the time of the issuance of the policy. Thus, the amount insured by the policy at the time of its issuance necessarily included the additional sum covered by the automatic increase clause because it was already determinable at the time the transaction was entered into and formed part of the policy.

The "automatic increase clause" in the policy is in the nature of a conditional obligation under Article 1181, 8 by which the increase of the insurance coverage shall depend upon the happening of the event which constitutes the obligation. In the instant case, the additional insurance that took effect in 1984 was an obligation subject to a suspensive obligation, 9 but still a part of the insurance sold to which private respondent was liable for the payment of the documentary stamp tax.