Estrada: Hunt down delinquent taxpayers

The Daily Tribune| Written by: Pat C. Santos| February 02, 2017

After stopping another round of tax increase in the city, Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada is now going after delinquent taxpayers — individuals and corporations — to further increase the city’s tax revenues.

Estrada directed City Treasurer Rizal del Rosario and City Assessor Jose de Juan to identify and track down every negligent taxpayer in Manila and see to it that they settle their tax dues.

“I have ordered the City Treasurer and the City Assessor to improve collection efficiency and go after delinquent taxpayers to ensure sufficient funds for projects and services to Manila residents,” the mayor said.

If warranted, Estrada warned they may initiate legal actions against those delinquent taxpayers as provided for under the law.

“We’ll see to it that everyone pays the correct taxes,” Estrada pointed out as he underscored the necessity to augment the present revenue collection of Manila to further enhance the delivery of basic services and facilities to its residents.

In one of his first actions as newly elected mayor back in 2013, Estrada formed a Committee on Auction to auction off the properties of delinquent taxpayers.

A total of 66 delinquent real property owners whose total uncollected payments amounted to P143 million had been sent urgent notices to pay their taxes. This was followed by a second batch of 99 property owners over unpaid taxes amounting to P281 million.

In an unprecedented move, Estrada approved on January 23 the passage of Ordinance 8516 that cancelled the second round of 40 percent increase in real property tax (RPT) rates that was supposed to take effect last month.

Estrada pointed out the second period increase “is no longer needed at this time because of the improving financial capacity of the city.”

The city government, he said, has so far built up over P5 billion in General Fund after paying the P5.5 billion debt left by the previous administration.

With an overwhelming majority vote, the city council last January 10 voted for the freeze in tax hike, saying the city government can do without the second period increase because Estrada has already rescued the city from its previous financial slump.

The ordinance was authored by Councilor Anna Katrina Yupangco (District 5) and co-sponsored by committee on ways and means chairman Councilor William Irwin Tieng (District 5).

The 40 percent RPT increase set for implementation this year is supposed to be the continuation of the 60 percent increase that had been collected starting January 1, 2014 as a result of the passage of Ordinance No. 8330, the city’s new revenue code.

Before that, Yupangco said the city had been operating under a 20-year-old revenue code; the city government was then being pressured by the Department of Finance and Commission on Audit to revise its tax code.

With the 40 percent increase permanently shelved, the city will just have to continue collecting RPT using the old 2013 schedule, according to Yupangco.