Harte-Hanks Philippines, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue

 Harte-Hanks Philippines, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue 

G.R. No. 205189

March 7, 2022 

Whether or not the petitioner prematurely filed its judicial claim for tax refund, thus, the CTA has no jurisdiction over the judicial claim filed by petitioner. 


No. The observance of the 120 day and 30day periods is crucial in filing a judicial appeal before the CTA. Section 112 (D) [now Section 112 (C)] of the NIRC clearly provides that the CIR has “120 days from the date of the submission of the complete documents in support of the application for tax refund/credit,” within which to grant or deny the claim. In case of full or partial denial by the CIR, the taxpayer’s recourse is to file an appeal before the CTA within 30 days from receipt of the decision of the CIR. However, if after the 120-day period the CIR fails to act on the application for tax refund/credit, the remedy of the taxpayer is to appeal the inaction of the CIR to the CTA within 30 days.” There is an exception to this general rule, however, BIR Ruling No. DA489-03, a general interpretative rule issued by the CIR pursuant to its power under Section 4 of the Tax Code, expressly states that the “taxpayer-claimant need not wait for the lapse of the 120-day period before it could seek judicial relief with the CTA by way of petition for review.  

The CTA, therefore, has jurisdiction over the judicial claim filed by the petitioner. Taking judicial notice of the BIR Ruling and the consistent application of the same to past Court rulings, the Court holds that both the CTA Second Division and En Banc erred in denying petitioner’s petition for review. 


The window period from December 10, 2003 to October 6, 2010 on the exception to the 120+30 day period on claiming VAT refund applies even if the taxpayer did not actually invoke BIR Ruling No. DA-489-03. 


The 120+30-day period is generally mandatory and jurisdictional from the effectivity of the Tax Code on 1 January 1998, up to the present. By way of an exception, judicial claims filed during the window period from 10 December 2003 to 6 October 2010, need not wait for the exhaustion of the 120-day period. The exception in San Roque has been applied consistently in numerous decisions of the Supreme Court. 


In San Roque, the claims filed by the taxpayer were well within the window period. The written application for tax refund/credit was filed with the CIR on March 23, 2010. When it was left unacted upon by the CIR, 98 days later or on June 29, 2010, the taxpayer filed a judicial claim with the CTA Second Division. Similar to the Taganito and the 2018 San Roque cases, even if Harte-Hanks Philippines (HHP) seemed to have prematurely filed its judicial claim under the general rule, the Court, pursuant to BIR Ruling No. DA-489-03, considers HHP to have filed its judicial claim on time. 


Although HHP did not actually invoke BIR Ruling No. DA-489-03 in any of its pleadings to justify the timeliness of its judicial claim with the CTA, the BIR Ruling applies to all taxpayers who filed their judicial claims within the window period of December 10, 2003 to October 6, 2010. To limit the application of the BIR Ruling only to those who invoked it specifically would unduly strain the pronouncements in San Roque, Taganito and Philex. 

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