G.R. No. L-22074. Apr 30, 1965 (121 Phil. 755)

121 Phil. 755. [ G.R. No. L-22074, April 30, 1965 ] THE PHILIPPINE GUARANTY CO., INC., PETITIONER, VS. THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE AND THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS, RESPONDENTS. D E C I S I O N. REYES, J.B.L., J.:

The Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc., a domestic insurance company, entered into reinsurance contracts, on various dates, with foreign insurance companies not doing business in the Philippines, namely: Imperio Compania de Seguros, La Union y El Fenix Espafiol, Overseas Assurances Corp., Ltd., Sociedad Anonima de Reaseguros Alianza, Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co., Ltd., Union Assurance Society Ltd., Swiss Reinsurance Company and Tariff Reinsurance Limited. Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc., thereby agreed to cede to the foreign reinsurers a portion of the premiums on insurances it has originally underwritten in the Philippines, in consideration for the assumption by the latter of liability on an equivalent portion of the risks insured. Said reinsurance contracts were signed by Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. in Manila and by the foreign reinsurers outside the Philippines, except the contract with Swiss Reinsurance Company, which was signed by both parties in Switzerland.
The reinsurance contracts made the commencement o the reinsurers' liability simultaneous with that of Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. under the original insurance. Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. was required to keep a register in Manila where the risks ceded to the foreign reinsurers were entered, and entry therein was binding upon the reinsurers. A proportionate amount of taxes on insurance premiums not recovered from the original assured were to be paid for by the foreign reinsurers. The foreign reinsurers further agreed, in consideration for managing or administering their affairs in the Philippines, to compensate the Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. in an amount equal to 5% of the reinsurance premiums. Conflicts and or differences between the parties under the reinsurance contracts were to be arbitrated in Manila. Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. and Swiss Reinsurance Company stipulated that their contract shall be construed by the laws of the Philippines.
Pursuant to the aforesaid reinsurance contracts Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. ceded to the foreign reinsurers the following premiums:

1953 P842,466.71
1954 721,471.85
Said premiums were excluded by Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. from its gross income when it filed its income tax returns for 1953 and 1951. Furthermore, it did not withhold or pay tax on them. Consequently, per letter dated April 13, 1959, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue assessed against Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. withholding tax on the ceded reinsurance premiums, thus:

1953
Gross premium per investigation P768,580.00
____________
Withholding tax due thereon at 24% P184,459.00
25% surcharge 46,114.00
Compromise for non-filing of withholding income tax return 100.00
____________
TOTAL AMOUNT DUE & COLLECTIBLE P230,673.00
1954
Gross premium per investigation P780,880.68
____________
Withholding tax due thereon at 24% P187,411.00
25% surcharge 46,853.00
Compromise for non-filing of withholding income tax return 100.00
TOTAL AMOUNT DUE & COLLECTIBLE P234,364.00
============
Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. protested the assessment on the ground that reinsurance premiums ceded to foreign reinsurers not doing business in the Philippines are not subject to withholding tax. Its protest was denied and it appealed to the Court of Tax Appeals.

On July 6, 1963, the Court of Tax Appeals rendered judgment with this dispositive portion:

"In view of the foregoing considerations, petitioner Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. is hereby ordered to pay to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue the respective sums of P202,192.00 and P173,153.00 for the total sum of P375,345.00 as withholding income taxes for the years 1953 and 1954, plus the statutory delinquency penalties thereon. With costs against petitioner."Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc., has appealed, questioning the legality of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue's assessment for withholding tax on the reinsurance premiums ceded in 1953 and 1954 to the foreign reinsurers.

Petitioner maintains that the reinsurance premiums in question did not constitute income from sources within the Philippines because the foreign reinsurers did not engage in business in the Philippines, nor did they have office here.

The reinsurance contracts however show that the transactions or activities that constituted the undertaking to reinsure Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. against losses arising from the original insurances in the Philippines were performed in the Philippines. The liability of the foreign reinsurers commenced simultaneously with the liability of Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. under the original insurances. Philippine Guaranty Co., lnc, kept in Manila a register of the risks ceded to the foreign reinsurers. Entries made in such register bound the foreign reinsurers, localizing in the Philippines the actual cession of the risks and premiums and assumption of the reinsurance undertaking by the foreign reinsurers. Taxes on premiums imposed by Section 255 of the Tax Code for the privilege of doing insurance business in the Philippines were payable by the foreign reinsurers when the same were not recoverable from the original assured. The foreign reinsurers paid Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. an amount equivalent to 5% of the ceded premiums, in consideration for administration and management by the latter of the affairs of the former in the Philippines in regard to their reinsurance activities here. Disputes and differences between the parties were subject to arbitration in the City of Manila. AH the reinsurance contracts, except that with Swiss Reinsurance Company, were signed by Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. in the Philippines and later signed by the foreign reinsurers abroad. Although the contract between Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. and Swiss Reinsurance Company was signed by both parties in Switzerland, the same specifically provided that its provision shall be construed according to the laws of the Philippines, thereby manifesting a clear intention of the parties lo subject themselves to Philippine laws.
Section 24 of the Tax Code subjects foreign corporations to tax on their income from sources within the Philippines. The word "sources" has been interpreted as the activity, property or service giving rise to the income.[1] The reinsurance premiums were income created from the undertaking of the foreign reinsurance companies to reinsure Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. against liability for loss under original insurances. Such undertaking, as explained above, took place in the Philippines. These insurance premiums therefore came from sources within the Philippines and, hence, are subject to corporate income tax.
The foreign insurers place of business should not be confused with their place of activity. Business implies continuity and progression of transactions[2] while activity may consist of only a single transaction. An activity may occur outside the place of business. Section 24 of the Tax Code does not require a foreign corporation to engage in business in the Philippines in subjecting its income to tax. It suffices that the activity creating the income is performed or done in the Philippines. What is controlling, therefore, is not the place of business but the place of activity that created an income.
Petitioner further contends that the reinsurance premiums are not income from sources within the Philippines because they are not specifically mentioned in Section 37 of the Tax Cede. Section 37 is not an all inclusive enumeration, for it merely directs that the kinds of income mentioned therein should be treated as income from sources within the Philippines but it does not require that other kinds of income should not be considered likewise.

The power to lax is an attribute of sovereignty. It is a power emanating from necessity. It is a necessary burden to preserve the State's sovereignty and a means to give the citizenry an army to resist an aggression, a navy to defend its shores from invasion, a corps of civil servants to serve, public improvements designed for the enjoyment of the citizenry and those which come within the State's territory, and facilities and protection which a government is supposed to provide. Considering that the reinsurance premiums in question were afforded protection by the government and the recipient foreign reinsurers exercised rights and privileges guaranteed by our laws, such reinsurance premiums and reinsurers should share the burden of maintaining the state.

Petitioner would wish to stress that its reliance in good faith on the rulings of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue requiring no withholding of the tax due on the reinsurance premiums in question relieved it of the duty to pay the corresponding withholding tax thereon. This defense of petitioner may free it from the payment of surcharges or penalties imposed for failure to pay the corresponding withholding tax, but it certainly would not exculpate it from liability to pay such withholding tax. The Government is not estopped from collecting taxes by the mistakes or errors of its agents.[3]

In respect to the question of whether or not reinsurance premiums ceded to foreign reinsurers not doing business in the Philippines are subject to withholding tax under Sections 53 and 54 of the Tax Code, suffice it to state that this question has already been answered in the affirmative in Alexander Howden & Co., Ltd. vs. Collector of Internal Revenue, L-19392, April 11, 1965.
Finally, petitioner contends that the withholding tax should be computed from the amount actually remitted to the foreign reinsurers instead of from the total amount ceded. And since it did not remit any amount to its foreign insurers in 1953 and 1954, no withholding tax was due.

The pertinent section of the Tax Code states:

"Sec. 54. Payment of corporation income tax at source .—In the case of foreign corporation subject to taxation under this Title not engaged in trade or business within the Philippines and not having any office or place of business therein, there shall be deducted and withheld at the source in the same manner and upon the same items as is provided in section fifty-three a tax equal to twenty-four per centum thereof, and such tax shall be returned and paid in the same manner and subject to the same conditions as provided in that Action."

The applicable portion of Section 53 provides:

"(b) Non-resident aliens.—All persons, corporations and general copartnerships (companias colectivas), in whatever capacity acting, including lessees or mortgagors of real or personal property, trustees acting in any trust capacity, executors, administrators receivers, conservators, fiduciaries, employers, and all officers and employees of the Government of the Philippines having the control, receipt, custody, disposal, or payment of interest, dividends, rents, salaries, wages, premiums, annuities, compensation, remunerations, emoluments, or other fixed or determinable annual or periodical gains, profits, and income of any non-resident alien individual, not engaged in trade or business within the Philippines and not having any office or place of business therein, shall (except) in the cases provided for in subsection (a) of this section) deduct and withhold from such annual or periodical gains, profits, and income a tax equal to twelve per centum hereof: Provided, That no such deduction or withholding shall be required in the case of dividends paid by a foreign corporation unless (1) such corporation is engaged in trade or business within the Philippines or has an office or place of business therein, and (2) more than eighty-five per centum of the gross income of such corporation for the three-year period ending with the lose of its taxable year preceding the declaration of such dividends (or for such part of such period as the corporation has been in existence) was derived from sources within the Philippines as determined under the provisions of section thirty-seven: Provided, further. That the Collector of Internal Revenue may authorize such tax to be deducted and withheld from the interest upon any securities the owners of which are not known to the withholding agent."
The above-quoted provisions allow no deduction from the income therein enumerated in determining the amount to be withheld. Accordingly, in computing the withholding tax due on the reinsurance premiums in question, no deduction shall be recognized.

WHEREFORE, in affirming the decision appealed from, the Philippine Guaranty Co., Inc. is hereby ordered to pay to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue the sums of P202.192.00 and P173.153.00, or a total amount of P375 345.00, as withholding tax for the years 1953 and 1954, respectively. If the amount of P375.345.00 is not paid within 30 days from the date this judgment becomes final there shall be collected a surcharge of 5% on the amount unpaid, plus interest at the rate of 1% a month from the date of delinquency to the date of payment, provided that the maximum amount that may be collected as interest shall not exceed the amount corresponding to a period of three (3) years. With costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Bengzon, C. J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Paredes, Dizon and Regala, JJ., concur.

[1] Mertens, Jr., Jacob. Law On Federal Income Taxation, Vol. 8, Section 45.27.
[2] Imperial vs. Collector of Internal Revenue, L-7924, September 30, 1955.
[3] Hilado vs. Collector of Internal Revenue, 100 Phil, 288; 53 Off. Gaz., 241; Koppel (Philippines), Inc. vs. Collector of Internal Revenue, L-10550, September 19, 1961; CompaƱia General de Tobacos de Filipinas vs. City of Manila, L-161619, June 29, 1963.

Popular Posts