Manny Pacquiao claims he has had to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to send relief to victims of Typhoon Haiyan, because his bank accounts have been frozen by the Philippine government as it pursues $50 million in back taxes it claims he owes.
Pacquiao had pledged to send relief supplies to the parts of his native country hardest hit by Haiyan, which killed more than 5,000 people and caused more than $1 billion in damages earlier this month. But, the boxer said yesterday, three days after easily outpointing Brandon Rios in Macau, he simply doesn't have the funds available. He said he privately borrowed over 1 million pesos ($22,700) and plans to borrow more.
At issue are years of taxes on earnings from Pacquiao's fights in America. Pacquiao claims to have already paid those taxes in the United States, and thus doesn't have to pay them in the Philippines—"'I am not a criminal or a thief," he said yesterday. But the Bureau of Internal Revenue—the Philippine IRS—doesn't believe him. All it wants to see is some proof that he actually paid taxes in the U.S, and hasn't seen any so far.
Revenue Commission Kim Henares, however, said that the only proof Pacquiao has given of his tax payments was a letter from promoter Top Rank and HBO of the taxes he has paid to the United States, but nothing from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
''That is self-serving and a mere scrap of paper,'' she said. ''What he can do is go to the IRS, ask IRS to certify this copy (of his tax payments) as a true copy. We have been waiting for that for two years.''
For just the years 2008 and 2009, authorities are seeking $50 million in back taxes, and have frozen his bank accounts as the claim remains pending. They are convinced that Pacquiao is hiding just how much he has earned—the bureau has surveyed 22 different banks, and only two deposits are in Pacquiao's name, for a grand total of $25,200. Surely one of the greatest and most successful boxers of our generation has more than $25k to his name?
It's a frightening thought, but he might not. From Brin-Jonathan Butler's very good Pacquiao piece last week:
Despite earning nearly $200 million during his brilliant career, Pacquiao always hemorrhaged money. Gary Andrew Poole's 2010 biography, "Pacman," laid out how Pacquiao's contracts were split: After his manager's took their 20-percent cut, his trainer Freddie Roach took 10 percent, strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza shaved off a few more points. There were also training camp expenses, tax bills in the U.S. and the Philippines, and his boundless, ever-growing entourage, all guzzling funds. According to a 2009 New York Times article by Greg Bishop, "Team Pacquiao has perfected the art of dysfunction. The entourage consists of trainers, assistants to the trainers, advisers, assistants to the advisers, cooks, dishwashers, car washers, publicists, gofers and security." For each fight, Pacquiao also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars flying his entourage to Las Vegas, buying hundreds of tickets, covering hotel rooms, and providing spending money. In the Times article, Michael Koncz, singled out Pacquiao's Achilles' heel: "The downfall of Pacquiao, if there is one, will be his kindness and generosity. At some point, I fear that's going to catch up to him." Beyond Pacquiao's generosity, he reportedly squandered millions from gambling. That doesn't even account for his fleet of cars and extensive property holdings, including houses, condos, apartments and such an intense desire to give his money away to the poor he had to hire people simply charged with the responsibility to apologize and prevent him from throwing money at all the open hands spread out before him.
Money mismanagement, whether through tax fraud or simply going broke, is a story as old as boxing. It's why fighters continue on long past their sell-by date. Pacquiao, who'll turn 35 next month and was written off by many before his win over Rios, is still making noise about Floyd Mayweather. But Mayweather doesn't need the money and Pacquiao might, so if it does happen, Mayweather will get the split he wants.
It's also why you won't see Pacquiao in Vegas anytime soon. Sunday's fight went down in Macau, which has a maximum tax rate of less than a third of America's. Because of new federal tax rates, Pacquiao has specifically requested not to fight in the U.S. anymore.