CHAMBER OF REAL ESTATE AND BUILDERS’ ASSOCIATION, INC. vs. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY- Minimum Corporate Income Tax
CREBA assails the imposition of the minimum corporate income tax (MCIT) as being violative of the due process clause as it levies income tax even if there is no realized gain. They also question the creditable withholding tax (CWT) on sales of real properties classified as ordinary assets stating that (1) they ignore the different treatment of ordinary assets and capital assets; (2) the use of gross selling price or fair market value as basis for the CWT and the collection of tax on a per transaction basis (and not on the net income at the end of the year) are inconsistent with the tax on ordinary real properties; (3) the government collects income tax even when the net income has not yet been determined; and (4) the CWT is being levied upon real estate enterprises but not on other enterprises, more particularly those in the manufacturing sector.
Are the impositions of the MCIT on domestic corporations and CWT on income from sales of real properties classified as ordinary assets unconstitutional?
NO. MCIT does not tax capital but only taxes income as shown by the fact that the MCIT is arrived at by deducting the capital spent by a corporation in the sale of its goods, i.e., the cost of goods and other direct expenses from gross sales. Besides, there are sufficient safeguards that exist for the MCIT: (1) it is only imposed on the 4th year of operations; (2) the law allows the carry forward of any excess MCIT paid over the normal income tax; and (3) the Secretary of Finance can suspend the imposition of MCIT in justifiable instances.
The regulations on CWT did not shift the tax base of a real estate business’ income tax from net income to GSP or FMV of the property sold since the taxes withheld are in the nature of advance tax payments and they are thus just installments on the annual tax which may be due at the end of the taxable year. As such the tax base for the sale of real property classified as ordinary assets remains to be the net taxable income and the use of the GSP or FMV is because these are the only factors reasonably known to the buyer in connection with the performance of the duties as a withholding agent.
Neither is there violation of equal protection even if the CWT is levied only on the real industry as the real estate industry is, by itself, a class on its own and can be validly treated different from other businesses.