San Miguel, the Philippine food and beverage giant, is continuing its battle with the government over taxes the state says it owes on its beer product, San Miguel Light.

The Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue is pursuing San Miguel Corp for 1.2 billion pesos (US$21.56m) in back taxes, as a result of sales in 1999 of San Mig Light, which the BIR last year reclassified as a "variant" of San Miguel Pale Pilsen. According to Philippine tax codes, a variant of a brand is taxed based on the highest tax classification.

However in a note to the Philippine Stock Exchange San Miguel said: "The company is of the view that the imposition of the higher tax is not in accord with law" 

San Miguel said its lawyers would meet BIR officials again next week to discuss the reclassification.

"The company remains hopeful that it may be able to persuade the BIR to change its view," San Miguel said.

If talks fall through San Miguel could file a court case to stop the new tax assessment from being implemented.