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G.R. No.

127347 November 25, 1999

ALFREDO N. AGUILA, JR., petitioner,


vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and FELICIDAD S. VDA. DE ABROGAR, respondents.

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals, dated
November 29, 1990, which reversed the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 273,
Marikina, Metro Manila, dated April 11, 1995. The trial court dismissed the petition for
declaration of nullity of a deed of sale filed by private respondent Felicidad S. Vda. de Abrogar
against petitioner Alfredo N. Aguila, Jr.

The facts are as follows:

Petitioner is the manager of A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co., a partnership engaged in lending
activities. Private respondent and her late husband, Ruben M. Abrogar, were the registered
owners of a house and lot, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 195101, in Marikina,
Metro Manila. On April 18, 1991, private respondent, with the consent of her late husband, and
A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co., represented by petitioner, entered into a Memorandum of Agreement,
which provided:

(1) That the SECOND PARTY [A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co.] shall buy the above-
described property from the FIRST PARTY [Felicidad S. Vda. de Abrogar], and
pursuant to this agreement, a Deed of Absolute Sale shall be executed by the
FIRST PARTY conveying the property to the SECOND PARTY for and in
consideration of the sum of Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00),
Philippine Currency;

(2) The FIRST PARTY is hereby given by the SECOND PARTY the option to
repurchase the said property within a period of ninety (90) days from the
execution of this memorandum of agreement effective April 18, 1991, for the
amount of TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THOUSAND PESOS (P230,000.00);

(3) In the event that the FIRST PARTY fail to exercise her option to repurchase
the said property within a period of ninety (90) days, the FIRST PARTY is obliged
to deliver peacefully the possession of the property to the SECOND PARTY
within fifteen (15) days after the expiration of the said 90 day grace period;

(4) During the said grace period, the FIRST PARTY obliges herself not to file
any lis pendens or whatever claims on the property nor shall be cause the
annotation of say claim at the back of the title to the said property;

(5) With the execution of the deed of absolute sale, the FIRST PARTY warrants
her ownership of the property and shall defend the rights of the SECOND PARTY
against any party whom may have any interests over the property;
(6) All expenses for documentation and other incidental expenses shall be for the
account of the FIRST PARTY;

(7) Should the FIRST PARTY fail to deliver peaceful possession of the property
to the SECOND PARTY after the expiration of the 15-day grace period given in
paragraph 3 above, the FIRST PARTY shall pay an amount equivalent to Five
Percent of the principal amount of TWO HUNDRED PESOS (P200.00) or
P10,000.00 per month of delay as and for rentals and liquidated damages;

(8) Should the FIRST PARTY fail to exercise her option to repurchase the
property within ninety (90) days period above-mentioned, this memorandum of
agreement shall be deemed cancelled and the Deed of Absolute Sale, executed
by the parties shall be the final contract considered as entered between the
parties and the SECOND PARTY shall proceed to transfer ownership of the
property above described to its name free from lines and encumbrances. 2

On the same day, April 18, 1991, the parties likewise executed a deed of absolute sale, 3 dated
June 11, 1991, wherein private respondent, with the consent of her late husband, sold the
subject property to A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co., represented by petitioner, for P200,000,00. In a
special power of attorney dated the same day, April 18, 1991, private respondent authorized
petitioner to cause the cancellation of TCT No. 195101 and the issuance of a new certificate of
title in the name of A.C. Aguila and Sons, Co., in the event she failed to redeem the subject
property as provided in the Memorandum of Agreement. 4

Private respondent failed to redeem the property within the 90-day period as provided in the
Memorandum of Agreement. Hence, pursuant to the special power of attorney mentioned
above, petitioner caused the cancellation of TCT No. 195101 and the issuance of a new
certificate of title in the name of A.C. Aguila and Sons, Co. 5

Private respondent then received a letter dated August 10, 1991 from Atty. Lamberto C.
Nanquil, counsel for A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co., demanding that she vacate the premises within 15
days after receipt of the letter and surrender its possession peacefully to A.C. Aguila & Sons,
Co. Otherwise, the latter would bring the appropriate action in court. 6

Upon the refusal of private respondent to vacate the subject premises, A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co.
filed an ejectment case against her in the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 76, Marikina, Metro
Manila. In a decision, dated April 3, 1992, the Metropolitan Trial Court ruled in favor of A.C.
Aguila & Sons, Co. on the ground that private respondent did not redeem the subject property
before the expiration of the 90-day period provided in the Memorandum of Agreement. Private
respondent appealed first to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 163, Pasig, Metro Manila, then to
the Court of Appeals, and later to this Court, but she lost in all the cases.

Private respondent then filed a petition for declaration of nullity of a deed of sale with the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 273, Marikina, Metro Manila on December 4, 1993. She alleged
that the signature of her husband on the deed of sale was a forgery because he was already
dead when the deed was supposed to have been executed on June 11, 1991.

It appears, however, that private respondent had filed a criminal complaint for falsification
against petitioner with the Office of the Prosecutor of Quezon City which was dismissed in a
resolution, dated February 14, 1994.
On April 11, 1995, Branch 273 of RTC-Marikina rendered its decision:

Plaintiff's claim therefore that the Deed of Absolute Sale is a forgery because
they could not personally appear before Notary Public Lamberto C. Nanquil on
June 11, 1991 because her husband, Ruben Abrogar, died on May 8, 1991 or
one month and 2 days before the execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale, while
the plaintiff was still in the Quezon City Medical Center recuperating from wounds
which she suffered at the same vehicular accident on May 8, 1991, cannot be
sustained. The Court is convinced that the three required documents, to wit: the
Memorandum of Agreement, the Special Power of Attorney, and the Deed of
Absolute Sale were all signed by the parties on the same date on April 18, 1991.
It is a common and accepted business practice of those engaged in money
lending to prepare an undated absolute deed of sale in loans of money secured
by real estate for various reasons, foremost of which is the evasion of taxes and
surcharges. The plaintiff never questioned receiving the sum of P200,000.00
representing her loan from the defendant. Common sense dictates that an
established lending and realty firm like the Aguila & Sons, Co. would not part with
P200,000.00 to the Abrogar spouses, who are virtual strangers to it, without the
simultaneous accomplishment and signing of all the required documents, more
particularly the Deed of Absolute Sale, to protect its interest.

xxx xxx xxx

WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the case in caption is hereby


ORDERED DISMISSED, with costs against the plaintiff.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed. It held:

The facts and evidence show that the transaction between plaintiff-appellant and
defendant-appellee is indubitably an equitable mortgage. Article 1602 of the New
Civil Code finds strong application in the case at bar in the light of the following
circumstances.

First: The purchase price for the alleged sale with right to repurchase is unusually
inadequate. The property is a two hundred forty (240) sq. m. lot. On said lot, the
residential house of plaintiff-appellant stands. The property is inside a
subdivision/village. The property is situated in Marikina which is already part of
Metro Manila. The alleged sale took place in 1991 when the value of the land had
considerably increased.

For this property, defendant-appellee pays only a measly P200,000.00 or


P833.33 per square meter for both the land and for the house.

Second: The disputed Memorandum of Agreement specifically provides that


plaintiff-appellant is obliged to deliver peacefully the possession of the property to
the SECOND PARTY within fifteen (15) days after the expiration of the said
ninety (90) day grace period. Otherwise stated, plaintiff-appellant is to retain
physical possession of the thing allegedly sold.
In fact, plaintiff-appellant retained possession of the property "sold" as if they
were still the absolute owners. There was no provision for maintenance or
expenses, much less for payment of rent.

Third: The apparent vendor, plaintiff-appellant herein, continued to pay taxes on


the property "sold". It is well-known that payment of taxes accompanied by actual
possession of the land covered by the tax declaration, constitute evidence of
great weight that a person under whose name the real taxes were declared has a
claim of right over the land.

It is well-settled that the presence of even one of the circumstances in Article


1602 of the New Civil Code is sufficient to declare a contract of sale with right to
repurchase an equitable mortgage.

Considering that plaintiff-appellant, as vendor, was paid a price which is


unusually inadequate, has retained possession of the subject property and has
continued paying the realty taxes over the subject property, (circumstances
mentioned in par. (1) (2) and (5) of Article 1602 of the New Civil Code), it must be
conclusively presumed that the transaction the parties actually entered into is an
equitable mortgage, not a sale with right to repurchase. The factors cited are in
support to the finding that the Deed of Sale/Memorandum of Agreement with
right to repurchase is in actuality an equitable mortgage.

Moreover, it is undisputed that the deed of sale with right of repurchase was
executed by reason of the loan extended by defendant-appellee to plaintiff-
appellant. The amount of loan being the same with the amount of the purchase
price.

xxx xxx xxx

Since the real intention of the party is to secure the payment of debt, now
deemed to be repurchase price: the transaction shall then be considered to be an
equitable mortgage.

Being a mortgage, the transaction entered into by the parties is in the nature of
a pactum commissorium which is clearly prohibited by Article 2088 of the New
Civil Code. Article 2088 of the New Civil Code reads:

Art. 2088. The creditor cannot appropriate the things given by way
of pledge or mortgage, or dispose of them. Any stipulation to the
contrary is null and void.

The aforequoted provision furnishes the two elements for pactum


commissorium to exist: (1) that there should be a pledge or mortgage wherein a
property is pledged or mortgaged by way of security for the payment of principal
obligation; and (2) that there should be a stipulation for an automatic
appropriation by the creditor of the thing pledged and mortgaged in the event of
non-payment of the principal obligation within the stipulated period.
In this case, defendant-appellee in reality extended a P200,000.00 loan to
plaintiff-appellant secured by a mortgage on the property of plaintiff-appellant.
The loan was payable within ninety (90) days, the period within which plaintiff-
appellant can repurchase the property. Plaintiff-appellant will pay P230,000.00
and not P200,000.00, the P30,000.00 excess is the interest for the loan
extended. Failure of plaintiff-appellee to pay the P230,000.00 within the ninety
(90) days period, the property shall automatically belong to defendant-appellee
by virtue of the deed of sale executed.

Clearly, the agreement entered into by the parties is in the nature of pactum
commissorium. Therefore, the deed of sale should be declared void as we
hereby so declare to be invalid, for being violative of law.

xxx xxx xxx

WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, the appealed decision is hereby


REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The questioned Deed of Sale and the cancellation
of the TCT No. 195101 issued in favor of plaintiff-appellant and the issuance of
TCT No. 267073 issued in favor of defendant-appellee pursuant to the
questioned Deed of Sale is hereby declared VOID and is hereby ANNULLED.
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 195101 of the Registry of Marikina is hereby
ordered REINSTATED. The loan in the amount of P230,000.00 shall be paid
within ninety (90) days from the finality of this decision. In case of failure to pay
the amount of P230,000.00 from the period therein stated, the property shall be
sold at public auction to satisfy the mortgage debt and costs and if there is an
excess, the same is to be given to the owner.

Petitioner now contends that: (1) he is not the real party in interest but A.C. Aguila & Co.,
against which this case should have been brought; (2) the judgment in the ejectment case is a
bar to the filing of the complaint for declaration of nullity of a deed of sale in this case; and (3)
the contract between A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co. and private respondent is a pacto de retro sale
and not an equitable mortgage as held by the appellate court.

The petition is meritorious.

Rule 3, §2 of the Rules of Court of 1964, under which the complaint in this case was filed,
provided that "every action must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party in
interest." A real party in interest is one who would be benefited or injured by the judgment, or
who is entitled to the avails of the suit. 7 This ruling is now embodied in Rule 3, §2 of the 1997
Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. Any decision rendered against a person who is not a real
party in interest in the case cannot be executed. 8 Hence, a complaint filed against such a
person should be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action. 9

Under Art. 1768 of the Civil Code, a partnership "has a juridical personality separate and distinct
from that of each of the partners." The partners cannot be held liable for the obligations of the
partnership unless it is shown that the legal fiction of a different juridical personality is being
used for fraudulent, unfair, or illegal purposes. 10 In this case, private respondent has not shown
that A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co., as a separate juridical entity, is being used for fraudulent, unfair,
or illegal purposes. Moreover, the title to the subject property is in the name of A.C. Aguila &
Sons, Co. and the Memorandum of Agreement was executed between private respondent, with
the consent of her late husband, and A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co., represented by petitioner. Hence,
it is the partnership, not its officers or agents, which should be impleaded in any litigation
involving property registered in its name. A violation of this rule will result in the dismissal of the
complaint. 11 We cannot understand why both the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals
sidestepped this issue when it was squarely raised before them by petitioner.

Our conclusion that petitioner is not the real party in interest against whom this action should be
prosecuted makes it unnecessary to discuss the other issues raised by him in this appeal.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby REVERSED and the complaint
against petitioner is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-19342 May 25, 1972

LORENZO T. OÑA and HEIRS OF JULIA BUÑALES, namely: RODOLFO B. OÑA, MARIANO
B. OÑA, LUZ B. OÑA, VIRGINIA B. OÑA and LORENZO B. OÑA, JR., petitioners,
vs.
THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, respondent.

Orlando Velasco for petitioners.

Office of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant Solicitor General Felicisimo R. Rosete,
and Special Attorney Purificacion Ureta for respondent.

BARREDO, J.:p

Petition for review of the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals in CTA Case No. 617, similarly
entitled as above, holding that petitioners have constituted an unregistered partnership and are,
therefore, subject to the payment of the deficiency corporate income taxes assessed against
them by respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue for the years 1955 and 1956 in the total
sum of P21,891.00, plus 5% surcharge and 1% monthly interest from December 15, 1958,
subject to the provisions of Section 51 (e) (2) of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended by
Section 8 of Republic Act No. 2343 and the costs of the suit,1 as well as the resolution of said
court denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration of said decision.

The facts are stated in the decision of the Tax Court as follows:

Julia Buñales died on March 23, 1944, leaving as heirs her surviving spouse,
Lorenzo T. Oña and her five children. In 1948, Civil Case No. 4519 was instituted
in the Court of First Instance of Manila for the settlement of her estate. Later,
Lorenzo T. Oña the surviving spouse was appointed administrator of the estate
of said deceased (Exhibit 3, pp. 34-41, BIR rec.). On April 14, 1949, the
administrator submitted the project of partition, which was approved by the Court
on May 16, 1949 (See Exhibit K). Because three of the heirs, namely Luz,
Virginia and Lorenzo, Jr., all surnamed Oña, were still minors when the project of
partition was approved, Lorenzo T. Oña, their father and administrator of the
estate, filed a petition in Civil Case No. 9637 of the Court of First Instance of
Manila for appointment as guardian of said minors. On November 14, 1949, the
Court appointed him guardian of the persons and property of the aforenamed
minors (See p. 3, BIR rec.).

The project of partition (Exhibit K; see also pp. 77-70, BIR rec.) shows that the
heirs have undivided one-half (1/2) interest in ten parcels of land with a total
assessed value of P87,860.00, six houses with a total assessed value of
P17,590.00 and an undetermined amount to be collected from the War Damage
Commission. Later, they received from said Commission the amount of
P50,000.00, more or less. This amount was not divided among them but was
used in the rehabilitation of properties owned by them in common (t.s.n., p. 46).
Of the ten parcels of land aforementioned, two were acquired after the death of
the decedent with money borrowed from the Philippine Trust Company in the
amount of P72,173.00 (t.s.n., p. 24; Exhibit 3, pp. 31-34 BIR rec.).

The project of partition also shows that the estate shares equally with Lorenzo T.
Oña, the administrator thereof, in the obligation of P94,973.00, consisting of
loans contracted by the latter with the approval of the Court (see p. 3 of Exhibit K;
or see p. 74, BIR rec.).

Although the project of partition was approved by the Court on May 16, 1949, no
attempt was made to divide the properties therein listed. Instead, the properties
remained under the management of Lorenzo T. Oña who used said properties in
business by leasing or selling them and investing the income derived therefrom
and the proceeds from the sales thereof in real properties and securities. As a
result, petitioners' properties and investments gradually increased from
P105,450.00 in 1949 to P480,005.20 in 1956 as can be gleaned from the
following year-end balances:

Ye Investme Land Buildin


ar nt g

Account Accou Accou


nt nt

1949 — P87,860.00 P17,590.00

1950 P24,657.65 128,566.72 96,076.26

1951 51,301.31 120,349.28 110,605.11

1952 67,927.52 87,065.28 152,674.39

1953 61,258.27 84,925.68 161,463.83


1954 63,623.37 99,001.20 167,962.04

1955 100,786.00 120,249.78 169,262.52

1956 175,028.68 135,714.68 169,262.52

(See Exhibits 3 & K t.s.n., pp. 22, 25-26, 40, 50, 102-104)

From said investments and properties petitioners derived such incomes as profits
from installment sales of subdivided lots, profits from sales of stocks, dividends,
rentals and interests (see p. 3 of Exhibit 3; p. 32, BIR rec.; t.s.n., pp. 37-38). The
said incomes are recorded in the books of account kept by Lorenzo T. Oña
where the corresponding shares of the petitioners in the net income for the year
are also known. Every year, petitioners returned for income tax purposes their
shares in the net income derived from said properties and securities and/or from
transactions involving them (Exhibit 3, supra; t.s.n., pp. 25-26). However,
petitioners did not actually receive their shares in the yearly income. (t.s.n., pp.
25-26, 40, 98, 100). The income was always left in the hands of Lorenzo T. Oña
who, as heretofore pointed out, invested them in real properties and securities.
(See Exhibit 3, t.s.n., pp. 50, 102-104).

On the basis of the foregoing facts, respondent (Commissioner of Internal


Revenue) decided that petitioners formed an unregistered partnership and
therefore, subject to the corporate income tax, pursuant to Section 24, in relation
to Section 84(b), of the Tax Code. Accordingly, he assessed against the
petitioners the amounts of P8,092.00 and P13,899.00 as corporate income taxes
for 1955 and 1956, respectively. (See Exhibit 5, amended by Exhibit 17, pp. 50
and 86, BIR rec.). Petitioners protested against the assessment and asked for
reconsideration of the ruling of respondent that they have formed an unregistered
partnership. Finding no merit in petitioners' request, respondent denied it (See
Exhibit 17, p. 86, BIR rec.). (See pp. 1-4, Memorandum for Respondent, June 12,
1961).

The original assessment was as follows:

1955

Net income as per investigation ................ P40,209.89

Income tax due thereon ............................... 8,042.00


25% surcharge .............................................. 2,010.50
Compromise for non-filing .......................... 50.00
Total ............................................................... P10,102.50

1956

Net income as per investigation ................ P69,245.23


Income tax due thereon ............................... 13,849.00
25% surcharge .............................................. 3,462.25
Compromise for non-filing .......................... 50.00
Total ............................................................... P17,361.25

(See Exhibit 13, page 50, BIR records)

Upon further consideration of the case, the 25% surcharge was eliminated in line
with the ruling of the Supreme Court in Collector v. Batangas Transportation Co.,
G.R. No. L-9692, Jan. 6, 1958, so that the questioned assessment refers solely
to the income tax proper for the years 1955 and 1956 and the "Compromise for
non-filing," the latter item obviously referring to the compromise in lieu of the
criminal liability for failure of petitioners to file the corporate income tax returns for
said years. (See Exh. 17, page 86, BIR records). (Pp. 1-3, Annex C to Petition)

Petitioners have assigned the following as alleged errors of the Tax Court:

I.

THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE


PETITIONERS FORMED AN UNREGISTERED PARTNERSHIP;

II.

THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE


PETITIONERS WERE CO-OWNERS OF THE PROPERTIES INHERITED AND
(THE) PROFITS DERIVED FROM TRANSACTIONS THEREFROM (sic);

III.

THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONERS


WERE LIABLE FOR CORPORATE INCOME TAXES FOR 1955 AND 1956 AS
AN UNREGISTERED PARTNERSHIP;

IV.

ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE PETITIONERS CONSTITUTED AN


UNREGISTERED PARTNERSHIP, THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS ERRED IN
NOT HOLDING THAT THE PETITIONERS WERE AN UNREGISTERED
PARTNERSHIP TO THE EXTENT ONLY THAT THEY INVESTED THE
PROFITS FROM THE PROPERTIES OWNED IN COMMON AND THE LOANS
RECEIVED USING THE INHERITED PROPERTIES AS COLLATERALS;

V.

ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THERE WAS AN UNREGISTERED


PARTNERSHIP, THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS ERRED IN NOT DEDUCTING
THE VARIOUS AMOUNTS PAID BY THE PETITIONERS AS INDIVIDUAL
INCOME TAX ON THEIR RESPECTIVE SHARES OF THE PROFITS
ACCRUING FROM THE PROPERTIES OWNED IN COMMON, FROM THE
DEFICIENCY TAX OF THE UNREGISTERED PARTNERSHIP.

In other words, petitioners pose for our resolution the following questions: (1) Under the facts
found by the Court of Tax Appeals, should petitioners be considered as co-owners of the
properties inherited by them from the deceased Julia Buñales and the profits derived from
transactions involving the same, or, must they be deemed to have formed an unregistered
partnership subject to tax under Sections 24 and 84(b) of the National Internal Revenue Code?
(2) Assuming they have formed an unregistered partnership, should this not be only in the
sense that they invested as a common fund the profits earned by the properties owned by them
in common and the loans granted to them upon the security of the said properties, with the
result that as far as their respective shares in the inheritance are concerned, the total income
thereof should be considered as that of co-owners and not of the unregistered partnership? And
(3) assuming again that they are taxable as an unregistered partnership, should not the various
amounts already paid by them for the same years 1955 and 1956 as individual income taxes on
their respective shares of the profits accruing from the properties they owned in common be
deducted from the deficiency corporate taxes, herein involved, assessed against such
unregistered partnership by the respondent Commissioner?

Pondering on these questions, the first thing that has struck the Court is that whereas
petitioners' predecessor in interest died way back on March 23, 1944 and the project of partition
of her estate was judicially approved as early as May 16, 1949, and presumably petitioners
have been holding their respective shares in their inheritance since those dates admittedly
under the administration or management of the head of the family, the widower and father
Lorenzo T. Oña, the assessment in question refers to the later years 1955 and 1956. We
believe this point to be important because, apparently, at the start, or in the years 1944 to 1954,
the respondent Commissioner of Internal Revenue did treat petitioners as co-owners, not liable
to corporate tax, and it was only from 1955 that he considered them as having formed an
unregistered partnership. At least, there is nothing in the record indicating that an earlier
assessment had already been made. Such being the case, and We see no reason how it could
be otherwise, it is easily understandable why petitioners' position that they are co-owners and
not unregistered co-partners, for the purposes of the impugned assessment, cannot be upheld.
Truth to tell, petitioners should find comfort in the fact that they were not similarly assessed
earlier by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

The Tax Court found that instead of actually distributing the estate of the deceased among
themselves pursuant to the project of partition approved in 1949, "the properties remained
under the management of Lorenzo T. Oña who used said properties in business by leasing or
selling them and investing the income derived therefrom and the proceed from the sales thereof
in real properties and securities," as a result of which said properties and investments steadily
increased yearly from P87,860.00 in "land account" and P17,590.00 in "building account" in
1949 to P175,028.68 in "investment account," P135.714.68 in "land account" and P169,262.52
in "building account" in 1956. And all these became possible because, admittedly, petitioners
never actually received any share of the income or profits from Lorenzo T. Oña and instead,
they allowed him to continue using said shares as part of the common fund for their ventures,
even as they paid the corresponding income taxes on the basis of their respective shares of the
profits of their common business as reported by the said Lorenzo T. Oña.

It is thus incontrovertible that petitioners did not, contrary to their contention, merely limit
themselves to holding the properties inherited by them. Indeed, it is admitted that during the
material years herein involved, some of the said properties were sold at considerable profit, and
that with said profit, petitioners engaged, thru Lorenzo T. Oña, in the purchase and sale of
corporate securities. It is likewise admitted that all the profits from these ventures were divided
among petitioners proportionately in accordance with their respective shares in the inheritance.
In these circumstances, it is Our considered view that from the moment petitioners allowed not
only the incomes from their respective shares of the inheritance but even the inherited
properties themselves to be used by Lorenzo T. Oña as a common fund in undertaking several
transactions or in business, with the intention of deriving profit to be shared by them
proportionally, such act was tantamonut to actually contributing such incomes to a common fund
and, in effect, they thereby formed an unregistered partnership within the purview of the above-
mentioned provisions of the Tax Code.

It is but logical that in cases of inheritance, there should be a period when the heirs can be
considered as co-owners rather than unregistered co-partners within the contemplation of our
corporate tax laws aforementioned. Before the partition and distribution of the estate of the
deceased, all the income thereof does belong commonly to all the heirs, obviously, without them
becoming thereby unregistered co-partners, but it does not necessarily follow that such status
as co-owners continues until the inheritance is actually and physically distributed among the
heirs, for it is easily conceivable that after knowing their respective shares in the partition, they
might decide to continue holding said shares under the common management of the
administrator or executor or of anyone chosen by them and engage in business on that basis.
Withal, if this were to be allowed, it would be the easiest thing for heirs in any inheritance to
circumvent and render meaningless Sections 24 and 84(b) of the National Internal Revenue
Code.

It is true that in Evangelista vs. Collector, 102 Phil. 140, it was stated, among the reasons for
holding the appellants therein to be unregistered co-partners for tax purposes, that their
common fund "was not something they found already in existence" and that "it was not a
property inherited by them pro indiviso," but it is certainly far fetched to argue therefrom, as
petitioners are doing here, that ergo, in all instances where an inheritance is not actually
divided, there can be no unregistered co-partnership. As already indicated, for tax purposes, the
co-ownership of inherited properties is automatically converted into an unregistered partnership
the moment the said common properties and/or the incomes derived therefrom are used as a
common fund with intent to produce profits for the heirs in proportion to their respective shares
in the inheritance as determined in a project partition either duly executed in an extrajudicial
settlement or approved by the court in the corresponding testate or intestate proceeding. The
reason for this is simple. From the moment of such partition, the heirs are entitled already to
their respective definite shares of the estate and the incomes thereof, for each of them to
manage and dispose of as exclusively his own without the intervention of the other heirs, and,
accordingly he becomes liable individually for all taxes in connection therewith. If after such
partition, he allows his share to be held in common with his co-heirs under a single
management to be used with the intent of making profit thereby in proportion to his share, there
can be no doubt that, even if no document or instrument were executed for the purpose, for tax
purposes, at least, an unregistered partnership is formed. This is exactly what happened to
petitioners in this case.

In this connection, petitioners' reliance on Article 1769, paragraph (3), of the Civil Code,
providing that: "The sharing of gross returns does not of itself establish a partnership, whether
or not the persons sharing them have a joint or common right or interest in any property from
which the returns are derived," and, for that matter, on any other provision of said code on
partnerships is unavailing. In Evangelista, supra, this Court clearly differentiated the concept of
partnerships under the Civil Code from that of unregistered partnerships which are considered
as "corporations" under Sections 24 and 84(b) of the National Internal Revenue Code. Mr.
Justice Roberto Concepcion, now Chief Justice, elucidated on this point thus:

To begin with, the tax in question is one imposed upon "corporations", which,
strictly speaking, are distinct and different from "partnerships". When our Internal
Revenue Code includes "partnerships" among the entities subject to the tax on
"corporations", said Code must allude, therefore, to organizations which are not
necessarily "partnerships", in the technical sense of the term. Thus, for instance,
section 24 of said Code exempts from the aforementioned tax "duly registered
general partnerships," which constitute precisely one of the most typical forms of
partnerships in this jurisdiction. Likewise, as defined in section 84(b) of said
Code, "the term corporation includes partnerships, no matter how created or
organized." This qualifying expression clearly indicates that a joint venture need
not be undertaken in any of the standard forms, or in confirmity with the usual
requirements of the law on partnerships, in order that one could be deemed
constituted for purposes of the tax on corporation. Again, pursuant to said section
84(b),the term "corporation" includes, among others, "joint accounts,(cuentas en
participacion)" and "associations", none of which has a legal personality of its
own, independent of that of its members. Accordingly, the lawmaker could not
have regarded that personality as a condition essential to the existence of the
partnerships therein referred to. In fact, as above stated, "duly registered general
co-partnerships" — which are possessed of the aforementioned personality —
have been expressly excluded by law (sections 24 and 84[b]) from the
connotation of the term "corporation." ....

xxx xxx xxx

Similarly, the American Law

... provides its own concept of a partnership. Under the term


"partnership" it includes not only a partnership as known in
common law but, as well, a syndicate, group, pool, joint venture,
or other unincorporated organization which carries on any
business, financial operation, or venture, and which is not, within
the meaning of the Code, a trust, estate, or a corporation. ... . (7A
Merten's Law of Federal Income Taxation, p. 789; emphasis ours.)

The term "partnership" includes a syndicate, group, pool, joint


venture or other unincorporated organization, through or by
means of which any business, financial operation, or venture is
carried on. ... . (8 Merten's Law of Federal Income Taxation, p.
562 Note 63; emphasis ours.)

For purposes of the tax on corporations, our National Internal Revenue Code
includes these partnerships — with the exception only of duly registered general
copartnerships — within the purview of the term "corporation." It is, therefore,
clear to our mind that petitioners herein constitute a partnership, insofar as said
Code is concerned, and are subject to the income tax for corporations.
We reiterated this view, thru Mr. Justice Fernando, in Reyes vs. Commissioner of Internal
Revenue, G. R. Nos. L-24020-21, July 29, 1968, 24 SCRA 198, wherein the Court ruled against
a theory of co-ownership pursued by appellants therein.

As regards the second question raised by petitioners about the segregation, for the purposes of
the corporate taxes in question, of their inherited properties from those acquired by them
subsequently, We consider as justified the following ratiocination of the Tax Court in denying
their motion for reconsideration:

In connection with the second ground, it is alleged that, if there was an


unregistered partnership, the holding should be limited to the business engaged
in apart from the properties inherited by petitioners. In other words, the taxable
income of the partnership should be limited to the income derived from the
acquisition and sale of real properties and corporate securities and should not
include the income derived from the inherited properties. It is admitted that the
inherited properties and the income derived therefrom were used in the business
of buying and selling other real properties and corporate securities. Accordingly,
the partnership income must include not only the income derived from the
purchase and sale of other properties but also the income of the inherited
properties.

Besides, as already observed earlier, the income derived from inherited properties may be
considered as individual income of the respective heirs only so long as the inheritance or estate
is not distributed or, at least, partitioned, but the moment their respective known shares are
used as part of the common assets of the heirs to be used in making profits, it is but proper that
the income of such shares should be considered as the part of the taxable income of an
unregistered partnership. This, We hold, is the clear intent of the law.

Likewise, the third question of petitioners appears to have been adequately resolved by the Tax
Court in the aforementioned resolution denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the
decision of said court. Pertinently, the court ruled this wise:

In support of the third ground, counsel for petitioners alleges:

Even if we were to yield to the decision of this Honorable Court


that the herein petitioners have formed an unregistered
partnership and, therefore, have to be taxed as such, it might be
recalled that the petitioners in their individual income tax returns
reported their shares of the profits of the unregistered partnership.
We think it only fair and equitable that the various amounts paid
by the individual petitioners as income tax on their respective
shares of the unregistered partnership should be deducted from
the deficiency income tax found by this Honorable Court against
the unregistered partnership. (page 7, Memorandum for the
Petitioner in Support of Their Motion for Reconsideration, Oct. 28,
1961.)

In other words, it is the position of petitioners that the taxable income of the
partnership must be reduced by the amounts of income tax paid by each
petitioner on his share of partnership profits. This is not correct; rather, it should
be the other way around. The partnership profits distributable to the partners
(petitioners herein) should be reduced by the amounts of income tax assessed
against the partnership. Consequently, each of the petitioners in his individual
capacity overpaid his income tax for the years in question, but the income tax
due from the partnership has been correctly assessed. Since the individual
income tax liabilities of petitioners are not in issue in this proceeding, it is not
proper for the Court to pass upon the same.

Petitioners insist that it was error for the Tax Court to so rule that whatever excess they might
have paid as individual income tax cannot be credited as part payment of the taxes herein in
question. It is argued that to sanction the view of the Tax Court is to oblige petitioners to pay
double income tax on the same income, and, worse, considering the time that has lapsed since
they paid their individual income taxes, they may already be barred by prescription from
recovering their overpayments in a separate action. We do not agree. As We see it, the case of
petitioners as regards the point under discussion is simply that of a taxpayer who has paid the
wrong tax, assuming that the failure to pay the corporate taxes in question was not deliberate.
Of course, such taxpayer has the right to be reimbursed what he has erroneously paid, but the
law is very clear that the claim and action for such reimbursement are subject to the bar of
prescription. And since the period for the recovery of the excess income taxes in the case of
herein petitioners has already lapsed, it would not seem right to virtually disregard prescription
merely upon the ground that the reason for the delay is precisely because the taxpayers failed
to make the proper return and payment of the corporate taxes legally due from them. In
principle, it is but proper not to allow any relaxation of the tax laws in favor of persons who are
not exactly above suspicion in their conduct vis-a-vis their tax obligation to the State.

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the judgment of the Court of Tax Appeals appealed from
is affirm with costs against petitioners.

G.R. No. L-68118 October 29, 1985

JOSE P. OBILLOS, JR., SARAH P. OBILLOS, ROMEO P. OBILLOS and REMEDIOS P.


OBILLOS, brothers and sisters, petitioners
vs.
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE and COURT OF TAX APPEALS, respondents.

Demosthenes B. Gadioma for petitioners.

AQUINO, J.:

This case is about the income tax liability of four brothers and sisters who sold two parcels of
land which they had acquired from their father.

On March 2, 1973 Jose Obillos, Sr. completed payment to Ortigas & Co., Ltd. on two lots with
areas of 1,124 and 963 square meters located at Greenhills, San Juan, Rizal. The next day he
transferred his rights to his four children, the petitioners, to enable them to build their
residences. The company sold the two lots to petitioners for P178,708.12 on March 13 (Exh. A
and B, p. 44, Rollo). Presumably, the Torrens titles issued to them would show that they were
co-owners of the two lots.

In 1974, or after having held the two lots for more than a year, the petitioners resold them to the
Walled City Securities Corporation and Olga Cruz Canda for the total sum of P313,050 (Exh. C
and D). They derived from the sale a total profit of P134,341.88 or P33,584 for each of them.
They treated the profit as a capital gain and paid an income tax on one-half thereof or of
P16,792.

In April, 1980, or one day before the expiration of the five-year prescriptive period, the
Commissioner of Internal Revenue required the four petitioners to pay corporate income tax on
the total profit of P134,336 in addition to individual income tax on their shares thereof He
assessed P37,018 as corporate income tax, P18,509 as 50% fraud surcharge and P15,547.56
as 42% accumulated interest, or a total of P71,074.56.

Not only that. He considered the share of the profits of each petitioner in the sum of P33,584 as
a " taxable in full (not a mere capital gain of which ½ is taxable) and required them to pay
deficiency income taxes aggregating P56,707.20 including the 50% fraud surcharge and the
accumulated interest.

Thus, the petitioners are being held liable for deficiency income taxes and penalties totalling
P127,781.76 on their profit of P134,336, in addition to the tax on capital gains already paid by
them.

The Commissioner acted on the theory that the four petitioners had formed an unregistered
partnership or joint venture within the meaning of sections 24(a) and 84(b) of the Tax Code
(Collector of Internal Revenue vs. Batangas Trans. Co., 102 Phil. 822).

The petitioners contested the assessments. Two Judges of the Tax Court sustained the same.
Judge Roaquin dissented. Hence, the instant appeal.

We hold that it is error to consider the petitioners as having formed a partnership under article
1767 of the Civil Code simply because they allegedly contributed P178,708.12 to buy the two
lots, resold the same and divided the profit among themselves.

To regard the petitioners as having formed a taxable unregistered partnership would result in
oppressive taxation and confirm the dictum that the power to tax involves the power to destroy.
That eventuality should be obviated.

As testified by Jose Obillos, Jr., they had no such intention. They were co-owners pure and
simple. To consider them as partners would obliterate the distinction between a co-ownership
and a partnership. The petitioners were not engaged in any joint venture by reason of that
isolated transaction.

Their original purpose was to divide the lots for residential purposes. If later on they found it not
feasible to build their residences on the lots because of the high cost of construction, then they
had no choice but to resell the same to dissolve the co-ownership. The division of the profit was
merely incidental to the dissolution of the co-ownership which was in the nature of things a
temporary state. It had to be terminated sooner or later. Castan Tobeñas says:
Como establecer el deslinde entre la comunidad ordinaria o copropiedad y la
sociedad?

El criterio diferencial-segun la doctrina mas generalizada-esta: por razon del


origen, en que la sociedad presupone necesariamente la convencion, mentras
que la comunidad puede existir y existe ordinariamente sin ela; y por razon del
fin objecto, en que el objeto de la sociedad es obtener lucro, mientras que el de
la indivision es solo mantener en su integridad la cosa comun y favorecer su
conservacion.

Reflejo de este criterio es la sentencia de 15 de Octubre de 1940, en la que se


dice que si en nuestro Derecho positive se ofrecen a veces dificultades al tratar
de fijar la linea divisoria entre comunidad de bienes y contrato de sociedad, la
moderna orientacion de la doctrina cientifica señala como nota fundamental de
diferenciacion aparte del origen de fuente de que surgen, no siempre uniforme,
la finalidad perseguida por los interesados: lucro comun partible en la sociedad,
y mera conservacion y aprovechamiento en la comunidad. (Derecho Civil
Espanol, Vol. 2, Part 1, 10 Ed., 1971, 328- 329).

Article 1769(3) of the Civil Code provides that "the sharing of gross returns does not of itself
establish a partnership, whether or not the persons sharing them have a joint or common right
or interest in any property from which the returns are derived". There must be an unmistakable
intention to form a partnership or joint venture.*

Such intent was present in Gatchalian vs. Collector of Internal Revenue, 67 Phil. 666, where 15
persons contributed small amounts to purchase a two-peso sweepstakes ticket with the
agreement that they would divide the prize The ticket won the third prize of P50,000. The 15
persons were held liable for income tax as an unregistered partnership.

The instant case is distinguishable from the cases where the parties engaged in joint ventures
for profit. Thus, in Oña vs.

** This view is supported by the following rulings of respondent Commissioner:

Co-owership distinguished from partnership.—We find that the case at bar is


fundamentally similar to the De Leon case. Thus, like the De Leon heirs, the
Longa heirs inherited the 'hacienda' in question pro-indiviso from their deceased
parents; they did not contribute or invest additional ' capital to increase or expand
the inherited properties; they merely continued dedicating the property to the use
to which it had been put by their forebears; they individually reported in their tax
returns their corresponding shares in the income and expenses of the 'hacienda',
and they continued for many years the status of co-ownership in order, as
conceded by respondent, 'to preserve its (the 'hacienda') value and to continue
the existing contractual relations with the Central Azucarera de Bais for milling
purposes. Longa vs. Aranas, CTA Case No. 653, July 31, 1963).

All co-ownerships are not deemed unregistered pratnership.—Co-Ownership


who own properties which produce income should not automatically be
considered partners of an unregistered partnership, or a corporation, within the
purview of the income tax law. To hold otherwise, would be to subject the income
of all
co-ownerships of inherited properties to the tax on corporations, inasmuch as if a
property does not produce an income at all, it is not subject to any kind of income
tax, whether the income tax on individuals or the income tax on corporation. (De
Leon vs. CI R, CTA Case No. 738, September 11, 1961, cited in Arañas, 1977
Tax Code Annotated, Vol. 1, 1979 Ed., pp. 77-78).

Commissioner of Internal Revenue, L-19342, May 25, 1972, 45 SCRA 74, where after an
extrajudicial settlement the co-heirs used the inheritance or the incomes derived therefrom as a
common fund to produce profits for themselves, it was held that they were taxable as an
unregistered partnership.

It is likewise different from Reyes vs. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 24 SCRA 198, where
father and son purchased a lot and building, entrusted the administration of the building to an
administrator and divided equally the net income, and from Evangelista vs. Collector of Internal
Revenue, 102 Phil. 140, where the three Evangelista sisters bought four pieces of real property
which they leased to various tenants and derived rentals therefrom. Clearly, the petitioners in
these two cases had formed an unregistered partnership.

In the instant case, what the Commissioner should have investigated was whether the father
donated the two lots to the petitioners and whether he paid the donor's tax (See Art. 1448, Civil
Code). We are not prejudging this matter. It might have already prescribed.

WHEREFORE, the judgment of the Tax Court is reversed and set aside. The assessments are
cancelled. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 78133 October 18, 1988

MARIANO P. PASCUAL and RENATO P. DRAGON, petitioners,


vs.
THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE and COURT OF TAX
APPEALS, respondents.

De la Cuesta, De las Alas and Callanta Law Offices for petitioners.

The Solicitor General for respondents

GANCAYCO, J.:

The distinction between co-ownership and an unregistered partnership or joint venture for
income tax purposes is the issue in this petition.
On June 22, 1965, petitioners bought two (2) parcels of land from Santiago Bernardino, et al.
and on May 28, 1966, they bought another three (3) parcels of land from Juan Roque. The first
two parcels of land were sold by petitioners in 1968 toMarenir Development Corporation, while
the three parcels of land were sold by petitioners to Erlinda Reyes and Maria Samson on March
19,1970. Petitioners realized a net profit in the sale made in 1968 in the amount of P165,224.70,
while they realized a net profit of P60,000.00 in the sale made in 1970. The corresponding
capital gains taxes were paid by petitioners in 1973 and 1974 by availing of the tax amnesties
granted in the said years.

However, in a letter dated March 31, 1979 of then Acting BIR Commissioner Efren I. Plana,
petitioners were assessed and required to pay a total amount of P107,101.70 as alleged
deficiency corporate income taxes for the years 1968 and 1970.

Petitioners protested the said assessment in a letter of June 26, 1979 asserting that they had
availed of tax amnesties way back in 1974.

In a reply of August 22, 1979, respondent Commissioner informed petitioners that in the years
1968 and 1970, petitioners as co-owners in the real estate transactions formed an unregistered
partnership or joint venture taxable as a corporation under Section 20(b) and its income was
subject to the taxes prescribed under Section 24, both of the National Internal Revenue
Code 1 that the unregistered partnership was subject to corporate income tax as distinguished
from profits derived from the partnership by them which is subject to individual income tax; and
that the availment of tax amnesty under P.D. No. 23, as amended, by petitioners relieved
petitioners of their individual income tax liabilities but did not relieve them from the tax liability of
the unregistered partnership. Hence, the petitioners were required to pay the deficiency income
tax assessed.

Petitioners filed a petition for review with the respondent Court of Tax Appeals docketed as CTA
Case No. 3045. In due course, the respondent court by a majority decision of March 30,
1987, 2 affirmed the decision and action taken by respondent commissioner with costs against
petitioners.

It ruled that on the basis of the principle enunciated in Evangelista 3 an unregistered partnership
was in fact formed by petitioners which like a corporation was subject to corporate income tax
distinct from that imposed on the partners.

In a separate dissenting opinion, Associate Judge Constante Roaquin stated that considering
the circumstances of this case, although there might in fact be a co-ownership between the
petitioners, there was no adequate basis for the conclusion that they thereby formed an
unregistered partnership which made "hem liable for corporate income tax under the Tax Code.

Hence, this petition wherein petitioners invoke as basis thereof the following alleged errors of
the respondent court:

A. IN HOLDING AS PRESUMPTIVELY CORRECT THE DETERMINATION OF


THE RESPONDENT COMMISSIONER, TO THE EFFECT THAT PETITIONERS
FORMED AN UNREGISTERED PARTNERSHIP SUBJECT TO CORPORATE
INCOME TAX, AND THAT THE BURDEN OF OFFERING EVIDENCE IN
OPPOSITION THERETO RESTS UPON THE PETITIONERS.
B. IN MAKING A FINDING, SOLELY ON THE BASIS OF ISOLATED SALE
TRANSACTIONS, THAT AN UNREGISTERED PARTNERSHIP EXISTED THUS
IGNORING THE REQUIREMENTS LAID DOWN BY LAW THAT WOULD
WARRANT THE PRESUMPTION/CONCLUSION THAT A PARTNERSHIP
EXISTS.

C. IN FINDING THAT THE INSTANT CASE IS SIMILAR TO THE


EVANGELISTA CASE AND THEREFORE SHOULD BE DECIDED ALONGSIDE
THE EVANGELISTA CASE.

D. IN RULING THAT THE TAX AMNESTY DID NOT RELIEVE THE


PETITIONERS FROM PAYMENT OF OTHER TAXES FOR THE PERIOD
COVERED BY SUCH AMNESTY. (pp. 12-13, Rollo.)

The petition is meritorious.

The basis of the subject decision of the respondent court is the ruling of this Court
in Evangelista. 4

In the said case, petitioners borrowed a sum of money from their father which together with their
own personal funds they used in buying several real properties. They appointed their brother to
manage their properties with full power to lease, collect, rent, issue receipts, etc. They had the
real properties rented or leased to various tenants for several years and they gained net profits
from the rental income. Thus, the Collector of Internal Revenue demanded the payment of
income tax on a corporation, among others, from them.

In resolving the issue, this Court held as follows:

The issue in this case is whether petitioners are subject to the tax on
corporations provided for in section 24 of Commonwealth Act No. 466, otherwise
known as the National Internal Revenue Code, as well as to the residence tax for
corporations and the real estate dealers' fixed tax. With respect to the tax on
corporations, the issue hinges on the meaning of the terms corporation and
partnership as used in sections 24 and 84 of said Code, the pertinent parts of
which read:

Sec. 24. Rate of the tax on corporations.—There shall be levied, assessed,


collected, and paid annually upon the total net income received in the preceding
taxable year from all sources by every corporation organized in, or existing under
the laws of the Philippines, no matter how created or organized but not including
duly registered general co-partnerships (companies collectives), a tax upon such
income equal to the sum of the following: ...

Sec. 84(b). The term "corporation" includes partnerships, no matter how created
or organized, joint-stock companies, joint accounts (cuentas en participation),
associations or insurance companies, but does not include duly registered
general co-partnerships (companies colectivas).

Article 1767 of the Civil Code of the Philippines provides:


By the contract of partnership two or more persons bind themselves to contribute
money, property, or industry to a common fund, with the intention of dividing the
profits among themselves.

Pursuant to this article, the essential elements of a partnership are two, namely:
(a) an agreement to contribute money, property or industry to a common fund;
and (b) intent to divide the profits among the contracting parties. The first
element is undoubtedly present in the case at bar, for, admittedly, petitioners
have agreed to, and did, contribute money and property to a common
fund. Hence, the issue narrows down to their intent in acting as they did. Upon
consideration of all the facts and circumstances surrounding the case, we are
fully satisfied that their purpose was to engage in real estate transactions for
monetary gain and then divide the same among themselves, because:

1. Said common fund was not something they found already in existence. It was
not a property inherited by them pro indiviso. They created it purposely. What is
more they jointly borrowed a substantial portion thereof in order to establish said
common fund.

2. They invested the same, not merely in one transaction, but in a series of
transactions. On February 2, 1943, they bought a lot for P100,000.00. On April 3,
1944, they purchased 21 lots for P18,000.00. This was soon followed, on April
23, 1944, by the acquisition of another real estate for P108,825.00. Five (5) days
later (April 28, 1944), they got a fourth lot for P237,234.14. The number of lots
(24) acquired and transcations undertaken, as well as the brief interregnum
between each, particularly the last three purchases, is strongly indicative of a
pattern or common design that was not limited to the conservation and
preservation of the aforementioned common fund or even of the property
acquired by petitioners in February, 1943. In other words, one cannot but
perceive a character of habituality peculiar to business transactions engaged in
for purposes of gain.

3. The aforesaid lots were not devoted to residential purposes or to other


personal uses, of petitioners herein. The properties were leased separately to
several persons, who, from 1945 to 1948 inclusive, paid the total sum of
P70,068.30 by way of rentals. Seemingly, the lots are still being so let, for
petitioners do not even suggest that there has been any change in the utilization
thereof.

4. Since August, 1945, the properties have been under the management of one
person, namely, Simeon Evangelists, with full power to lease, to collect rents, to
issue receipts, to bring suits, to sign letters and contracts, and to indorse and
deposit notes and checks. Thus, the affairs relative to said properties have been
handled as if the same belonged to a corporation or business enterprise
operated for profit.

5. The foregoing conditions have existed for more than ten (10) years, or, to be
exact, over fifteen (15) years, since the first property was acquired, and over
twelve (12) years, since Simeon Evangelists became the manager.
6. Petitioners have not testified or introduced any evidence, either on their
purpose in creating the set up already adverted to, or on the causes for its
continued existence. They did not even try to offer an explanation therefor.

Although, taken singly, they might not suffice to establish the intent necessary to
constitute a partnership, the collective effect of these circumstances is such as to
leave no room for doubt on the existence of said intent in petitioners herein. Only
one or two of the aforementioned circumstances were present in the cases cited
by petitioners herein, and, hence, those cases are not in point. 5

In the present case, there is no evidence that petitioners entered into an agreement to
contribute money, property or industry to a common fund, and that they intended to divide the
profits among themselves. Respondent commissioner and/ or his representative just assumed
these conditions to be present on the basis of the fact that petitioners purchased certain parcels
of land and became co-owners thereof.

In Evangelists, there was a series of transactions where petitioners purchased twenty-four (24)
lots showing that the purpose was not limited to the conservation or preservation of the common
fund or even the properties acquired by them. The character of habituality peculiar to business
transactions engaged in for the purpose of gain was present.

In the instant case, petitioners bought two (2) parcels of land in 1965. They did not sell the same
nor make any improvements thereon. In 1966, they bought another three (3) parcels of land
from one seller. It was only 1968 when they sold the two (2) parcels of land after which they did
not make any additional or new purchase. The remaining three (3) parcels were sold by them in
1970. The transactions were isolated. The character of habituality peculiar to business
transactions for the purpose of gain was not present.

In Evangelista, the properties were leased out to tenants for several years. The business was
under the management of one of the partners. Such condition existed for over fifteen (15) years.
None of the circumstances are present in the case at bar. The co-ownership started only in
1965 and ended in 1970.

Thus, in the concurring opinion of Mr. Justice Angelo Bautista in Evangelista he said:

I wish however to make the following observation Article 1769 of the new Civil
Code lays down the rule for determining when a transaction should be deemed a
partnership or a co-ownership. Said article paragraphs 2 and 3, provides;

(2) Co-ownership or co-possession does not itself establish a partnership,


whether such co-owners or co-possessors do or do not share any profits made
by the use of the property;

(3) The sharing of gross returns does not of itself establish a partnership,
whether or not the persons sharing them have a joint or common right or interest
in any property from which the returns are derived;

From the above it appears that the fact that those who agree to form a co-
ownership share or do not share any profits made by the use of the property held
in common does not convert their venture into a partnership. Or the sharing of
the gross returns does not of itself establish a partnership whether or not the
persons sharing therein have a joint or common right or interest in the property.
This only means that, aside from the circumstance of profit, the presence of other
elements constituting partnership is necessary, such as the clear intent to form a
partnership, the existence of a juridical personality different from that of the
individual partners, and the freedom to transfer or assign any interest in the
property by one with the consent of the others (Padilla, Civil Code of the
Philippines Annotated, Vol. I, 1953 ed., pp. 635-636)

It is evident that an isolated transaction whereby two or more persons contribute


funds to buy certain real estate for profit in the absence of other circumstances
showing a contrary intention cannot be considered a partnership.

Persons who contribute property or funds for a common enterprise and agree to
share the gross returns of that enterprise in proportion to their contribution, but
who severally retain the title to their respective contribution, are not thereby
rendered partners. They have no common stock or capital, and no community of
interest as principal proprietors in the business itself which the proceeds derived.
(Elements of the Law of Partnership by Flord D. Mechem 2nd Ed., section 83, p.
74.)

A joint purchase of land, by two, does not constitute a co-partnership in respect


thereto; nor does an agreement to share the profits and losses on the sale of
land create a partnership; the parties are only tenants in common. (Clark vs.
Sideway, 142 U.S. 682,12 Ct. 327, 35 L. Ed., 1157.)

Where plaintiff, his brother, and another agreed to become owners of a single
tract of realty, holding as tenants in common, and to divide the profits of
disposing of it, the brother and the other not being entitled to share in plaintiffs
commission, no partnership existed as between the three parties, whatever their
relation may have been as to third parties. (Magee vs. Magee 123 N.E. 673, 233
Mass. 341.)

In order to constitute a partnership inter sese there must be: (a) An intent to form
the same; (b) generally participating in both profits and losses; (c) and such a
community of interest, as far as third persons are concerned as enables each
party to make contract, manage the business, and dispose of the whole
property.-Municipal Paving Co. vs. Herring 150 P. 1067, 50 III 470.)

The common ownership of property does not itself create a partnership between
the owners, though they may use it for the purpose of making gains; and they
may, without becoming partners, agree among themselves as to the
management, and use of such property and the application of the proceeds
therefrom. (Spurlock vs. Wilson, 142 S.W. 363,160 No. App. 14.) 6

The sharing of returns does not in itself establish a partnership whether or not the persons
sharing therein have a joint or common right or interest in the property. There must be a clear
intent to form a partnership, the existence of a juridical personality different from the individual
partners, and the freedom of each party to transfer or assign the whole property.
In the present case, there is clear evidence of co-ownership between the petitioners. There is
no adequate basis to support the proposition that they thereby formed an unregistered
partnership. The two isolated transactions whereby they purchased properties and sold the
same a few years thereafter did not thereby make them partners. They shared in the gross
profits as co- owners and paid their capital gains taxes on their net profits and availed of the tax
amnesty thereby. Under the circumstances, they cannot be considered to have formed an
unregistered partnership which is thereby liable for corporate income tax, as the respondent
commissioner proposes.

And even assuming for the sake of argument that such unregistered partnership appears to
have been formed, since there is no such existing unregistered partnership with a distinct
personality nor with assets that can be held liable for said deficiency corporate income tax, then
petitioners can be held individually liable as partners for this unpaid obligation of the partnership
p. 7 However, as petitioners have availed of the benefits of tax amnesty as individual taxpayers
in these transactions, they are thereby relieved of any further tax liability arising therefrom.

WHEREFROM, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the decision of the respondent Court of
Tax Appeals of March 30, 1987 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and another decision is
hereby rendered relieving petitioners of the corporate income tax liability in this case, without
pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 172690 March 3, 2010

HEIRS OF JOSE LIM, represented by ELENITO LIM, Petitioners,


vs.
JULIET VILLA LIM, Respondent.

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil
Procedure, assailing the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision2 dated June 29, 2005, which reversed
and set aside the decision3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lucena City, dated April 12,
2004.

The facts of the case are as follows:

Petitioners are the heirs of the late Jose Lim (Jose), namely: Jose's widow Cresencia Palad
(Cresencia); and their children Elenito, Evelia, Imelda, Edelyna and Edison, all surnamed Lim
(petitioners), represented by Elenito Lim (Elenito). They filed a Complaint4 for Partition,
Accounting and Damages against respondent Juliet Villa Lim (respondent), widow of the late
Elfledo Lim (Elfledo), who was the eldest son of Jose and Cresencia.
Petitioners alleged that Jose was the liaison officer of Interwood Sawmill in Cagsiay, Mauban,
Quezon. Sometime in 1980, Jose, together with his friends Jimmy Yu (Jimmy) and Norberto Uy
(Norberto), formed a partnership to engage in the trucking business. Initially, with a contribution
of ₱50,000.00 each, they purchased a truck to be used in the hauling and transport of lumber of
the sawmill. Jose managed the operations of this trucking business until his death on August 15,
1981. Thereafter, Jose's heirs, including Elfledo, and partners agreed to continue the business
under the management of Elfledo. The shares in the partnership profits and income that formed
part of the estate of Jose were held in trust by Elfledo, with petitioners' authority for Elfledo to
use, purchase or acquire properties using said funds.

Petitioners also alleged that, at that time, Elfledo was a fresh commerce graduate serving as his
father’s driver in the trucking business. He was never a partner or an investor in the business
and merely supervised the purchase of additional trucks using the income from the trucking
business of the partners. By the time the partnership ceased, it had nine trucks, which were all
registered in Elfledo's name. Petitioners asseverated that it was also through Elfledo’s
management of the partnership that he was able to purchase numerous real properties by using
the profits derived therefrom, all of which were registered in his name and that of respondent. In
addition to the nine trucks, Elfledo also acquired five other motor vehicles.

On May 18, 1995, Elfledo died, leaving respondent as his sole surviving heir. Petitioners
claimed that respondent took over the administration of the aforementioned properties, which
belonged to the estate of Jose, without their consent and approval. Claiming that they are co-
owners of the properties, petitioners required respondent to submit an accounting of all income,
profits and rentals received from the estate of Elfledo, and to surrender the administration
thereof. Respondent refused; thus, the filing of this case.

Respondent traversed petitioners' allegations and claimed that Elfledo was himself a partner of
Norberto and Jimmy. Respondent also claimed that per testimony of Cresencia, sometime in
1980, Jose gave Elfledo ₱50,000.00 as the latter's capital in an informal partnership with Jimmy
and Norberto. When Elfledo and respondent got married in 1981, the partnership only had one
truck; but through the efforts of Elfledo, the business flourished. Other than this trucking
business, Elfledo, together with respondent, engaged in other business ventures. Thus, they
were able to buy real properties and to put up their own car assembly and repair business.
When Norberto was ambushed and killed on July 16, 1993, the trucking business started to
falter. When Elfledo died on May 18, 1995 due to a heart attack, respondent talked to Jimmy
and to the heirs of Norberto, as she could no longer run the business. Jimmy suggested that
three out of the nine trucks be given to him as his share, while the other three trucks be given to
the heirs of Norberto. However, Norberto's wife, Paquita Uy, was not interested in the vehicles.
Thus, she sold the same to respondent, who paid for them in installments.

Respondent also alleged that when Jose died in 1981, he left no known assets, and the
partnership with Jimmy and Norberto ceased upon his demise. Respondent also stressed that
Jose left no properties that Elfledo could have held in trust. Respondent maintained that all the
properties involved in this case were purchased and acquired through her and her husband’s
joint efforts and hard work, and without any participation or contribution from petitioners or from
Jose. Respondent submitted that these are conjugal partnership properties; and thus, she had
the right to refuse to render an accounting for the income or profits of their own business.

Trial on the merits ensued. On April 12, 2004, the RTC rendered its decision in favor of
petitioners, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered:

1) Ordering the partition of the above-mentioned properties equally between the plaintiffs
and heirs of Jose Lim and the defendant Juliet Villa-Lim; and

2) Ordering the defendant to submit an accounting of all incomes, profits and rentals
received by her from said properties.

SO ORDERED.

Aggrieved, respondent appealed to the CA.

On June 29, 2005, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC's decision, dismissing petitioners'
complaint for lack of merit. Undaunted, petitioners filed their Motion for Reconsideration,5 which
the CA, however, denied in its Resolution6 dated May 8, 2006.

Hence, this Petition, raising the sole question, viz.:

IN THE APPRECIATION BY THE COURT OF THE EVIDENCE SUBMITTED BY THE


PARTIES, CAN THE TESTIMONY OF ONE OF THE PETITIONERS BE GIVEN GREATER
WEIGHT THAN THAT BY A FORMER PARTNER ON THE ISSUE OF THE IDENTITY OF THE
OTHER PARTNERS IN THE PARTNERSHIP?7

In essence, petitioners argue that according to the testimony of Jimmy, the sole surviving
partner, Elfledo was not a partner; and that he and Norberto entered into a partnership with
Jose. Thus, the CA erred in not giving that testimony greater weight than that of Cresencia, who
was merely the spouse of Jose and not a party to the partnership.8

Respondent counters that the issue raised by petitioners is not proper in a petition for review on
certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, as it would entail the review, evaluation,
calibration, and re-weighing of the factual findings of the CA. Moreover, respondent invokes the
rationale of the CA decision that, in light of the admissions of Cresencia and Edison and the
testimony of respondent, the testimony of Jimmy was effectively refuted; accordingly, the CA's
reversal of the RTC's findings was fully justified.9

We resolve first the procedural matter regarding the propriety of the instant Petition.

Verily, the evaluation and calibration of the evidence necessarily involves consideration of
factual issues — an exercise that is not appropriate for a petition for review on certiorari under
Rule 45. This rule provides that the parties may raise only questions of law, because the
Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. Generally, we are not duty-bound to analyze again and
weigh the evidence introduced in and considered by the tribunals below.10 When supported by
substantial evidence, the findings of fact of the CA are conclusive and binding on the parties
and are not reviewable by this Court, unless the case falls under any of the following recognized
exceptions:

(1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises and
conjectures;
(2) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;

(3) Where there is a grave abuse of discretion;

(4) When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts;

(5) When the findings of fact are conflicting;

(6) When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the
case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee;

(7) When the findings are contrary to those of the trial court;

(8) When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on
which they are based;

(9) When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners' main and reply
briefs are not disputed by the respondents; and

(10) When the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the supposed
absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record.11

We note, however, that the findings of fact of the RTC are contrary to those of the CA. Thus, our
review of such findings is warranted.

On the merits of the case, we find that the instant Petition is bereft of merit.

A partnership exists when two or more persons agree to place their money, effects, labor, and
skill in lawful commerce or business, with the understanding that there shall be a proportionate
sharing of the profits and losses among them. A contract of partnership is defined by the Civil
Code as one where two or more persons bind themselves to contribute money, property, or
industry to a common fund, with the intention of dividing the profits among themselves.12

Undoubtedly, the best evidence would have been the contract of partnership or the articles of
partnership. Unfortunately, there is none in this case, because the alleged partnership was
never formally organized. Nonetheless, we are asked to determine who between Jose and
Elfledo was the "partner" in the trucking business.

A careful review of the records persuades us to affirm the CA decision. The evidence presented
by petitioners falls short of the quantum of proof required to establish that: (1) Jose was the
partner and not Elfledo; and (2) all the properties acquired by Elfledo and respondent form part
of the estate of Jose, having been derived from the alleged partnership.

Petitioners heavily rely on Jimmy's testimony. But that testimony is just one piece of evidence
against respondent. It must be considered and weighed along with petitioners' other evidence
vis-à-vis respondent's contrary evidence. In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof
must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. "Preponderance of evidence" is the
weight, credit, and value of the aggregate evidence on either side and is usually considered
synonymous with the term "greater weight of the evidence" or "greater weight of the credible
evidence." "Preponderance of evidence" is a phrase that, in the last analysis, means probability
of the truth. It is evidence that is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that which
is offered in opposition thereto.13 Rule 133, Section 1 of the Rules of Court provides the
guidelines in determining preponderance of evidence, thus:

SECTION I. Preponderance of evidence, how determined. In civil cases, the party having
burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. In determining where
the preponderance or superior weight of evidence on the issues involved lies, the court may
consider all the facts and circumstances of the case, the witnesses' manner of testifying, their
intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the
nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability or improbability of their testimony, their
interest or want of interest, and also their personal credibility so far as the same may
legitimately appear upon the trial. The court may also consider the number of witnesses, though
the preponderance is not necessarily with the greater number.

At this juncture, our ruling in Heirs of Tan Eng Kee v. Court of Appeals14 is enlightening.
Therein, we cited Article 1769 of the Civil Code, which provides:

Art. 1769. In determining whether a partnership exists, these rules shall apply:

(1) Except as provided by Article 1825, persons who are not partners as to each other
are not partners as to third persons;

(2) Co-ownership or co-possession does not of itself establish a partnership, whether


such co-owners or co-possessors do or do not share any profits made by the use of the
property;

(3) The sharing of gross returns does not of itself establish a partnership, whether or not
the persons sharing them have a joint or common right or interest in any property from
which the returns are derived;

(4) The receipt by a person of a share of the profits of a business is a prima facie
evidence that he is a partner in the business, but no such inference shall be drawn if
such profits were received in payment:

(a) As a debt by installments or otherwise;

(b) As wages of an employee or rent to a landlord;

(c) As an annuity to a widow or representative of a deceased partner;

(d) As interest on a loan, though the amount of payment vary with the profits of
the business;

(e) As the consideration for the sale of a goodwill of a business or other property
by installments or otherwise.

Applying the legal provision to the facts of this case, the following circumstances tend to prove
that Elfledo was himself the partner of Jimmy and Norberto: 1) Cresencia testified that Jose
gave Elfledo ₱50,000.00, as share in the partnership, on a date that coincided with the payment
of the initial capital in the partnership;15 (2) Elfledo ran the affairs of the partnership, wielding
absolute control, power and authority, without any intervention or opposition whatsoever from
any of petitioners herein;16 (3) all of the properties, particularly the nine trucks of the partnership,
were registered in the name of Elfledo; (4) Jimmy testified that Elfledo did not receive wages or
salaries from the partnership, indicating that what he actually received were shares of the profits
of the business;17 and (5) none of the petitioners, as heirs of Jose, the alleged partner,
demanded periodic accounting from Elfledo during his lifetime. As repeatedly stressed in Heirs
of Tan Eng Kee,18 a demand for periodic accounting is evidence of a partnership.

Furthermore, petitioners failed to adduce any evidence to show that the real and personal
properties acquired and registered in the names of Elfledo and respondent formed part of the
estate of Jose, having been derived from Jose's alleged partnership with Jimmy and Norberto.
They failed to refute respondent's claim that Elfledo and respondent engaged in other
businesses. Edison even admitted that Elfledo also sold Interwood lumber as a
sideline.19 Petitioners could not offer any credible evidence other than their bare assertions.
Thus, we apply the basic rule of evidence that between documentary and oral evidence, the
former carries more weight.20

Finally, we agree with the judicious findings of the CA, to wit:

The above testimonies prove that Elfledo was not just a hired help but one of the partners in the
trucking business, active and visible in the running of its affairs from day one until this ceased
operations upon his demise. The extent of his control, administration and management of the
partnership and its business, the fact that its properties were placed in his name, and that he
was not paid salary or other compensation by the partners, are indicative of the fact that Elfledo
was a partner and a controlling one at that. It is apparent that the other partners only contributed
in the initial capital but had no say thereafter on how the business was ran. Evidently it was
through Elfredo’s efforts and hard work that the partnership was able to acquire more trucks and
otherwise prosper. Even the appellant participated in the affairs of the partnership by acting as
the bookkeeper sans salary.1avvphi1

It is notable too that Jose Lim died when the partnership was barely a year old, and the
partnership and its business not only continued but also flourished. If it were true that it was
Jose Lim and not Elfledo who was the partner, then upon his death the partnership should have

been dissolved and its assets liquidated. On the contrary, these were not done but instead its
operation continued under the helm of Elfledo and without any participation from the heirs of
Jose Lim.

Whatever properties appellant and her husband had acquired, this was through their own
concerted efforts and hard work. Elfledo did not limit himself to the business of their partnership
but engaged in other lines of businesses as well.

In sum, we find no cogent reason to disturb the findings and the ruling of the CA as they are
amply supported by the law and by the evidence on record.

WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is DENIED. The assailed Court of Appeals Decision dated
June 29, 2005 is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners. SO ORDERED.