City treasurer: Be careful with tax relief proposals

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Nestle L. Semilla May 28,2015 - 02:40 AM

Before the Cebu City government can offer tax relief, city treasurer Diwa Cuevas said its records should be reconciled first.

“I cannot say I’m against it because we have to clean our records first because there are duplications in it,” she said during a public hearing yesterday on a proposed ordinance providing a tax holiday  for  delinquent property taxpayers.

Cuevas said there are duplications in their records on past due real property taxes since 1980.

She also disagreed with another  proposed ordinance   to raise the tax discount given to taxpayers who pay on time to 20 percent from the current 10 percent.

This would be  “a case of a little too much of an incentive already.”

“The City perhaps has a lot more to lose than gain,” she added.

With a 10-percent discount, Cuevas said the city government forgoes about P49 million in annual tax payments.

“It should be advance payment and then I suggest that the payment should be made at the end of the last quarter,” she said.

Wenceslao said all other LGUs in the country are already giving a 20-percent discount.

Meanwhile, Cuevas said the schedule of fair market values will have to be updated first. Appraisal of properties is   based on the market values.

Cuevas said the city government is still using the schedule approved in 2001, but implemented in 2006.

“Real property owners have been benefiting by using the old values of properties in the assessment. They have actually been paying lesser taxes by LGC standards,” she stated in a position paper.

As of ius year, real property tax collectibles have reached P2.6 billion — P1.6 billion total tax due and penalties of around P1 billion.

Cuevas said these figures may not be accurate since the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) depends on data from the City Assessor’s Office.

“As of now, the City Assessor’s Office is doing the tax mapping. It’s expected to be done by November this year,” she said.

Under the proposed ordinance of Councilor Noel Wenceslao, interest charges on unpaid RPTs from January 2009 to 2014 will be waived until Dec. 31, 2016.

For any unpaid RPT before that, taxpayers will have to pay 50 percent of the interest, in cash or installment.

“A grant on tax holiday on the interest of delinquent real properties will give incentive and encourage payment of the unpaid real properties taxes, consequently, it would improve the tax collection of the City,” the proposed ordinance stated.

The Local Government Code of 1991 allows local government units to grant tax exemptions, incentives or relief.

The proposed ordinance covers real properties, except those disposed through public auction.

Interested applicants will have to fill out a payment form at the City Treasurer’s Office.

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TAGS: business, Cebu City, City Treasurer, Diwa Cuevas, Mayor Michael Rama, tax, tax relief

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