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Will Tax Problems Derail Manny Pacquiao’s Presidential Plan?

by Charles Jay

Talk about bad timing.

A Wall Street Journal article that was released on Wednesday discussed the notion that Manny Pacquiao might actually be a prime candidate to someday run for president

Here’s an excerpt:

“Increasingly, the boxer has surrounded himself with seasoned politicians as advisers who could help him punch above his weight in pursuing a more serious political career. In interviews, he has spoken about a desire to help people and rein in corruption in the country.”

The next day, officials from the tax bureau in the Philippines filed criminal proceedings against Pacquiao as it appears he may have been shielding information about his earnings for 2010, although it is not known whether it goes back any farther.

Pacquiao did not respond when the tax authority requested records of his income, and it had reached a deadline as of a month ago; he says he did not refuse, and in fact was not evading the investigation in any way.

Still, where are the records, considering he has a new “team” behind him, after lawsuits against accountants?

Or maybe those lawsuits have clouded the picture? Either way, there are some strange things here. One of them is that, according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, he paid P100 million in 2008 but only P7 million the next year. And as mentioned, they’re still trying to chase down the income from his 2010 fights and other ancillaries.

Some of the pressure may stem out of the publicity Pacquiao receives. When you have publications like ESPN The Magazine listing him with earnings of $32 million in 2010, Sports Illustrated placing him among the “Fortunate 50,” a list of the world’s richest athletes, and Forbes fitting him into the middle of their “Celebrity 100,” you are going to draw attention.

Now, it is not inconceivable that Pacquiao can’t make heads or tails of his financial situation, or that he is so generous that he gives large amounts of money away and can’t tell his financial situation at any given time. But in the end, that doesn’t turn out to be anyone’s problem but his own. if the United States put a beloved hero like Joe Louis through so much misery because of unpaid taxes, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that the government in the Philippines could see fit to put the clamps on PacMan.

Actually, it could be even worse than what Louis faced.

Pacquiao could possibly face a two-year jail term if found to be guilty, along with a fine.

Must Bob Arum come to the rescue with some cash, in the interests of protecting his own position? Would he even have enough?

Keep in mind that Pacquiao is currently an elected representative. Not only does that not excuse him from any of this, it actually holds him up to a higher level of responsibility. two points are appropriate to be made here – #1 is that when you are in the house of representatives, you have won an election, and when you win, there has to be a loser. So it’s just a natural occurrence that there will be a faction that opposes Pacquiao. As such, it’s never going to be unanimous in that country that he should be cut any breaks at all (also remember that he lost the first time he ran).

Point #2, as has been said on these pages before, if somebody like Manny Pacquiao can’t somehow demonstrate an awareness of his own finances, or show some accountability for them, how could he ever be entrusted with something as considerable as the presidency of a country?

That’s not an empty point at all. He may be philanthropic, but given this track record he’s building up, you could bet that if he ever achieved that high office, other people would be controlling some of the things he should have his eye on. And that kind of “puppet government” doesn’t inspire confidence.

Still, I guess this “Pacquiao for President” stuff is good press (just ask the Wall Street Journal folks) and it does appear attainable, so if he insists, there are some exemplars he can use if he seeks re-election, or something higher, from the slammer or after his “bid” is over.

James Traficant, a long-term congressman who was imprisoned, ran for office from a federal prison in Allenwood, PA, and got 15% of the vote. Marion Barry won back his office as mayor of Washington DC a few years after he was arrested on drug charges when caught smoking crack on camera. Harold Washington was elected mayor of Chicago about a decade after serving a short jail term for failing to file tax returns. Leonard Peltier, serving two life terms for killing two FBI agents on an Indiana reservation, ran for president in 2004 and received 27,607 votes in California.

The list goes on, but the point is that even if Manny has to pay the price for, well, not paying the price, one should not give up hope that he could be one day sitting in that chair marked “El Presidente.”

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