New city treasurer imposes moratorium on realty tax delinquencies

BAGUIO CITY – Newly appointed city treasurer Alex Cabarrubias said his office will implement the city council-approved six-month moratorium on real property tax delinquencies but vowed that no more penalty holidays will happen during his term.

Cabarrubias announced last Tuesday that the amnesty on penalties went into effect last March 22 and will run until September 21 this year covering lots, buildings, and machinery pursuant to a city council ordinance approved last January.

Under the ordinance, all fines, surcharges, interests or arrears will be condoned upon settlement of real property taxes if paid within the prescribed period.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. Baguio-Benguet Chapter president Modesto Imayaho Sr. said granting the moratorium to benefit erring taxpayers is unfair to those who religiously pay their taxes on time.

Cabarrubias admitted he himself does not approve of condoning tax penalties but he assured that this will not be repeated under his watch as he will insist on auctioning off to the public properties with delinquencies unpaid for a year.

He said there were only a few taxpayers with delinquencies who benefitted from the moratorium and that the city government grants big discounts to clients who pay their obligations on time.

The ordinance grants a one-time six-month tax relief to give chance to all real property taxpayers with penalties, fines, surcharges, interests or arrears to settle their accounts.

The ordinance authored by Vice Mayor Edison R. Bilog and Councilors Leandro B. Yangot, Jr.,  Peter Fianza, and Elmer Datuin applies to delinquent taxpayers as of December 31, 2015.

It covers properties which are undeclared and subject to taxes; declared but the real property taxes have not yet been paid; those included in auctions conducted by the local government but have not yet been purchased by private persons or entities; property owners with pending cases in the court whose ownership are in question and properties sold through public auctions whose ownership has not been officially transferred due to non-issuance of final deed of sale by the local government.

Under the ordinance, all fines, surcharges, interests or arrears will be lifted only upon settlement of real property taxes within the prescribed period.

“Payments of real property tax under the ordinance shall be made either in cash or installment basis, provided that, it will be paid during the amnesty period as fixed and applied as of December 31, 2013; only after the said delinquencies are settled may tax payments be credited to the current period and no further tax amnesty shall be granted after the expiration of the 6-month tax amnesty period,” the ordinance read.

It further provides that “no public auction of real properties due to non-payment of tax delinquencies will be held and initiated by the local government during the amnesty period while real properties with delinquent taxes attached after the expiration of the amnesty period shall be offered for sale at public auction to the highest bidder for the sole purpose of satisfying payment of accumulated delinquencies with the corresponding penalties, arrearages, surcharges, and interests pursuant to existing laws or ordinances.”

It added the application for amnesty under the ordinance shall be filed with the City Treasury Office on a prescribed form to be issued by the same office while the CTO shall also be in charge of the preparation and processing of any compromise agreement together with the corresponding related documents by and between the taxpayers and the City Mayor for and on behalf of the local government.

By  Aileen Refuerzo

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