G.R. No. 151135. July 02, 2004 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title:
**Contex Corporation vs. Hon. Commissioner of Internal Revenue**

### Facts:
Contex Corporation, a domestic entity manufacturing hospital textiles for export and operating within the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ), availed itself of tax exemptions under Republic Act No. 7227. It registered with the BIR as a non-VAT entity, believing it was exempt from all national and local taxes, including VAT. From 1997 to 1998, Contex paid VAT on its purchases, believing these were erroneously charged. After its initial tax refund request was denied by the BIR, Contex filed a second request, which also went unaddressed, prompting it to seek recourse with the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA). The CTA granted a partial refund, accepting Contex’s claim for exemption from input VAT but limited the refund to VAT paid on materials used directly in manufacturing and disallowed claims for VAT paid before June 29, 1997, due to the prescriptive period.

The Commissioner of Internal Revenue (CIR) appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA), which reversed the CTA’s decision, arguing that Contex’s VAT exemption under RA 7227 did not extend to input VAT. The CA held that such exemptions are strictly construed and only pertain to direct taxes. Contex’s motion for reconsideration was denied, leading to the petition before the Supreme Court.

### Issues:
1. Whether RA 7227’s exemption from “all local and national internal revenue taxes” includes VAT on purchases made by Contex Corporation.
2. Whether Contex Corporation is entitled to a tax refund or credit for the VAT paid on its purchases of supplies and materials for the years 1997 and 1998.

### Court’s Decision:
The Supreme Court denied the petition, affirming the CA’s decision. The Court held that while Contex is VAT-exempt as a purchaser, its exemption does not extend to input VAT on its purchases since this would essentially grant Contex a benefit intended for VAT-registered entities, namely, input VAT credit/refund. The Court clarified that VAT is an indirect tax where the liability for the tax differs from the burden of the tax, which can be passed to the buyer. The Court emphasized that tax exemptions are granted expressly by law and are strictly construed. Since Contex is registered as a non-VAT taxpayer, it cannot claim a refund or credit for input VAT paid as it is exempt from VAT on all its sales and importations.

### Doctrine:
This decision reiterates the principle that VAT exemptions under special laws like RA 7227 are strictly construed and only pertain to taxes for which a taxpayer is directly liable. It distinguishes between the liability for VAT and the burden of VAT, indicating that only VAT-registered entities are eligible for input VAT credit/refund.

### Class Notes:
– VAT is an indirect tax, the burden of which can be passed on to the buyer but the legal liability remains with the seller.
– Tax exemptions, especially under laws such as RA 7227, are strictly construed and only extend to taxes for which the entity is directly liable.
– A VAT-exempt entity under RA 7227 cannot claim a refund or credit for input VAT paid, as this contradicts its non-VAT taxpayer status.

### Historical Background:
Contex Corporation vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue delves into the application of VAT exemptions accorded by the special economic zone laws of the Philippines, specifically RA 7227, which created the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. This case highlights the complexities of tax laws in special economic zones, where entities are often granted tax incentives and exemptions to encourage investment and economic development. The decision underscores the nuanced interpretation of tax exemption provisions within the framework of the country’s VAT system, emphasizing the distinction between direct and indirect tax liabilities and the specific eligibility criteria for claiming VAT refunds or credits.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Apply Filters