BONTOC, Mountain Province – A proposed revenue ordinance adjusting tax discount rates drew negative reactions from the taxpayers during the public hearing held at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Office, Bontoc, Mountain Province on April 24, 2018.
Considering that the province needs to enhance, ensure financial stability, and resiliency on the collection performance of the province, the Tax Codification Committee and the Honorable Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan came up with the proposal to adjust tax discount from existing rates. For advance payment of Real Property Tax (RPT) from existing rate of twenty percent (20%) to five percent (5%) while prompt payment of ten percent (10%) to zero percent.
Former Board Member Atty. Florence N. Taguiba, questioned the proposal. According to her, it is not right and proper to take back what have been enjoyed by the taxpayers. She proposed to the august body not to adjust as it is detrimental to the public interest.
Tax advocates, Miss Nenet Milan and Miss Caroline Astudillo, Municipal Treasurer of Tadian and Sabangan respectively shared the same view. Based from experience, Milan said that their RPT collections increased and tax delinquents decreased when the tax discounts rates were maximized in CY 2005.
According to her, the proposed move will discourage advance and prompt payment resulting to increase in tax delinquencies.
One of the netizens expressed disappointment for the move and urged the honorable SP members to think over before they approve the proposal.
Aside from the tax rate discounts, the provincial government finds the necessity of updating and rationalizing the revenue code especially in the rate adjustments of regulatory fees and charges to commensurate to the escalating costs of the regulations and services provided.
One of the fees and charges that need to be updated is the charges of provincial government facilities especially the lot and building space rental.
The committee proposed to double the lot rental rate per square meter to provide more revenues for the discharge of basic services to the people, commensurate to the sky rocketing cost of lots in the market, and to discourage leaseholders for sale and sub-leasing.
The lessees appealed to the SP not to approve the proposal and suggested at least not more than ten percent increase from the current rate per square meter. According to them, the trend of increase in charges rate should be gradual.
Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Thomas Kiwang defended the proposal and explained that even if the proposed rate per square area doubled, the rate is still very minimal as compared to the private area.
For commercial building space rental, there is no proposed adjustment except to the area fronting the national road where there is a slight increase per square meter.
Some hospital fees and charges were proposed for rate adjustment also. According to Dr. Penelope A. Domogo, prior to the public consultation, the adjustment is to upgrade hospital facilities and equipment aside from the escalating cost of medical supplies and equipment. She added that one reason for adjustment is to be at par with other government hospitals.
Taguiba noticed that there was no basis applied in the adjustment especially to lot rental and some regulatory fees and charges. She proposed that the SP should come up with a certain formula to be applied in the adjustment for uniformity purposes. She reminded that government exists not for profit but for public services.
There is no adjustment of tax impositions of the provincial government, except sand and gravel tax from P40.00 per cubic meter to P50.00, since the local governments cannot adjust beyond the rate as provided by the Local Government Code of 1991. The province tax imposition is already at its maximum rates.
The revenue code is to be amended or revised every after five (5) years of operation.
As provided under Section 191 of Local Government Code (LGC), the Local Government Units (LGUs) shall have the authority to adjust the tax rate as prescribed herein not oftener than once every five years, but in no case shall such adjustment exceed ten percent (10%) of the rates fixed under this code.
Provincial Treasurer Cawed A. Gamonnac, who acted as facilitator during the public hearing proceedings, said that the honorable august body will consider all the suggestions and recommendations made during the public hearing and deliberate it during the second and final reading and then finally its approval.
By Alfred Macalling