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Pacquiao squares up to tax man

By Peter Shadbolt, CNN
March 28, 2012 -- Updated 0944 GMT (1744 HKT)
Pacquiao examines documents given to him by an aide, during a press conference in Manila on March 26, 2012.
Pacquiao examines documents given to him by an aide, during a press conference in Manila on March 26, 2012.
  • World boxing champion Manny Pacquiao says he intends to fight charges over tax
  • The Philippines tax department says the boxer failed to submit proper documents
  • The figher-turned-politician declared assets worth $26.3 million in 2010
  • He says the Bureau of Internal Revenue has singled him out to tarnish his name

(CNN) -- World boxing champion Manny Pacquiao says he intends to fight criminal charges that he failed to submit the proper tax documents for his earnings from boxing matches and his many commercial endorsements.

The eight-time world champion, who is also a politician, could face up to two years in jail if found guilty, but officials from the Philippines Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said the matter could be easily resolved if Pacquiao submits the proper documents.

Pacquiao's lawyers said the boxer -- who was in the United States training for a fight with Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez when the BIR issued a subpoena last month -- was not given enough time to comply with the request.

Pacquiao declared assets at the end of 2010 of 1.13 billion pesos ($26.3 million) and no liabilities, making him the country's wealthiest lawmaker. He told a press conference on Monday that he had been marked out for harassment by the BIR.

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"Why the BIR singled me out smacks of bad faith designed to tarnish my reputation," he said.

They should have done this in private
Eric Pineda

His business manager Eric Pineda told CNN that Pacquiao had never avoided paying taxes.

"It's just a matter of people jumping the gun," he said. "They should have done this in private rather than going to the media in an attempt to get Manny's attention."

Philippines Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told local media that no one was above investigation by the BIR, adding that Pacquiao was taking the issue personally.

"I don't think the BIR will dare harass an eight-time world champion," Purisima said. "We love and respect [Pacquiao] and we wish him the best -- he is a national icon. But at the same time we have a duty to make sure that we review everyone's income tax return."

The flamboyant boxer-turned-politician -- arguably the world's best pound-for-pound fighter -- has recently been he subject of several colorful stories concerning his career.

Last week, Pacquiao said in a radio interview he had a dream in which God had told him to hang up his gloves, fueling speculation he may back out of a long-anticipated fight with American Floyd Mayweather.

Boxing fans have long sought a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao. The pair were in negotiations for a fight to be held later this year but talks fell through.

Pacquiao, 33, has a 54-3 win-loss record with two draws, while 34-year-old Mayweather has won all 42 of his professional fights, 26 by knockout.

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