BAGUIO CITY – The proposed increase in business and real property taxes will produce an additional income of more than P650 million for the city government annually that should result to improved public services.
This was the assessment made by assistant city treasurer Alex Cabarrubias and assistant city assessor AlmayaAddawe when they presented the business and real property profiles of the city government during the city officials’ transition planning held last July 7-8.
Cabarrubias volunteered that they expect an additional income estimated at P250 million annually if the proposed hike in business taxes is implemented while Addawe reported a P400 million estimated additional revenue for lands alone if their proposed revised schedule of fair market values of real properties will be enforced. This does not include the expected revenue for adjusting rates for buildings and structures.
The two department heads echoed Mayor Mauricio Domogan’s call for the immediate passage of the proposed tax increases to update the antiquated rates which are not attuned with the times and with the requirements of the law any more.
Domogan again asked the city council to treat the tax measure as priority legislation stressing its urgency after many years of failing to impose any increase due to humanitarian consideration.
Addawe said the city has been given a failing mark by the Bureau of Local Government Finance for not updating the schedule of fair market values for real properties which has remained unchanged since 1996 making the city non-compliant with the New Local Government Code or the Republic Act No. 7160 provision mandating local government units to undertake a general revision of real property tax valuation every three years.
She said that to temper the huge increase in the market value as a result of the city’s passing up on several revision terms, they proposed to drastically decrease the assessment levels from the present 12 percent for residential and 35 percent for commercial and industrial to just three percent for residential and five percent for commercial and industrial properties.
Addawe considered the suggestion of Rep. Marquez Go and Mayor Domogan to review the stratification of the taxable areas as well as the zonal values to make them more appropriate, albeit it will entail having to go through the process of gathering data anew to establish market values.
For business taxes, Cabarrubias said they are proposing an average of 10 percent increase in business taxes under Tax Ordinance No. 2000-01.
He said some proposed percentage increases may appear massive but are still low when translated to their peso value, including land, market and cemetery operations.
The city’s market rental and fees and garbage charges were last adjusted in 2001 or 15 years ago.
“Public hearings had been conducted with the concerned sectors so I think we can now act on the proposals, not exactly as proposed but what they perceive as reasonable rates based on the outcome of the hearings,” the mayor said.
He expressed confidence that Baguio residents will be fair enough to consider the adjustments as long as these are realistic and justifiable and are being used for their intended purpose.
Apart from the revenue measures, the mayor also pitched for the proposed policy reforms to update the current levels of garbage and sewerage fees.
The mayor said these tax reforms are needed to further improve the revenue standing of the city and fund priority development projects in the pipeline.
By Aileen P. Refuerzo