Videogram tax


The tax imposed by the DECREE is not only a regulatory but also a revenue measure prompted by the realization that earnings of videogram establishments of around P600 million per annum have not been subjected to tax, thereby depriving the Government of an additional source of revenue. It is an end-user tax, imposed on retailers for every videogram they make available for public viewing. It is similar to the 30% amusement tax imposed or borne by the movie industry which the theater-owners pay to the government, but which is passed on to the entire cost of the admission ticket, thus shifting the tax burden on the buying or the viewing public. It is a tax that is imposed uniformly on all videogram operators.

The levy of the 30% tax is for a public purpose. It was imposed primarily to answer the need for regulating the video industry, particularly because of the rampant film piracy, the flagrant violation of intellectual property rights, and the proliferation of pornographic video tapes. And while it was also an objective of the DECREE to protect the movie industry, the tax remains a valid imposition.

The public purpose of a tax may legally exist even if the motive which impelled the legislature to impose the tax was to favor one industry over another.

It is inherent in the power to tax that a state be free to select the subjects of taxation, and it has been repeatedly held that "inequities which result from a singling out of one particular class for taxation or exemption infringe no constitutional limitation". Taxation has been made the implement of the state's police power.

At bottom, the rate of tax is a matter better addressed to the taxing legislature.
We do not share petitioner's fears that the video industry is being over-regulated and being eased out of existence as if it were a nuisance. Being a relatively new industry, the need for its regulation was apparent. While the underlying objective of the DECREE is to protect the moribund movie industry, there is no question that public welfare is at bottom of its enactment, considering "the unfair competition posed by rampant film piracy; the erosion of the moral fiber of the viewing public brought about by the availability of unclassified and unreviewed video tapes containing pornographic films and films with brutally violent sequences; and losses in government revenues due to the drop in theatrical attendance, not to mention the fact that the activities of video establishments are virtually untaxed since mere payment of Mayor's permit and municipal license fees are required to engage in business.

In the last analysis, what petitioner basically questions is the necessity, wisdom and expediency of the DECREE. These considerations, however, are primarily and exclusively a matter of legislative concern.

Only congressional power or competence, not the wisdom of the action taken, may be the basis for declaring a statute invalid. This is as it ought to be. The principle of separation of powers has in the main wisely allocated the respective authority of each department and confined its jurisdiction to such a sphere. There would then be intrusion not allowable under the Constitution if on a matter left to the discretion of a coordinate branch, the judiciary would substitute its own. If there be adherence to the rule of law, as there ought to be, the last offender should be courts of justice, to which rightly litigants submit their controversy precisely to maintain unimpaired the supremacy of legal norms and prescriptions. The attack on the validity of the challenged provision likewise insofar as there may be objections, even if valid and cogent on its wisdom cannot be sustained.

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