Dunkin Donuts' Philippine franchisee faces tax evasion case

MANILA, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The Philippines’ main tax agency filed on Friday a tax evasion complaint against Dunkin’ Donuts’ local franchisee, which is partly owned by a member of a wealthy family that President Rodrigo Duterte has publicly accused of dodging taxes.

Golden Donuts Inc (GDI) is partly owned by a member of the Prieto family, which has announced plans to cede control of the country’s most-read broadsheet, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, after being repeatedly criticised by Duterte for its coverage of his bloody war on drugs.

GDI and its officers should be prosecuted for evading more than 1 billion pesos ($19.26 million) in income and value added taxes in 2007, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said in the complaint it filed with the Department of Justice.

“The case arose when a confidential information was received by the BIR that GDI made substantial under-declaration on its sales,” said the BIR, which has been running a campaign to help raise tax collection.

GDI denied the charge, saying its tax liabilities for 2007 had been settled with the BIR as of 2012.

“It has always been compliant with all tax laws and regulations, as evidenced by tax clearances issued by the BIR over the years,” GDI said in a statement, adding it was prepared to answer the case in the proper forum.

Dunkin’ Donuts is owned by Canton, Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer is among the country’s top three newspapers by circulation. Its coverage of the government’s war on drugs, which has resulted in thousands of deaths, has brought the newspaper repeated complaints from Duterte over perceived bias.

The newspaper has rejected accusations of bias. ($1 = 51.9100 Philippine pesos) (Reporting by Karen Lema Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)