‘STAGGERING’ INCREASE OF REAL PROPERTY TAXES REVISITED

Sep 24, 2022

The Baguio City Council has revisited the issue on the ‘staggering’ increase in the payment of real property taxes in the city. In a resolution, the city council called the attention of the City Assessor’s Office and
the Local Finance Committee for an updated report on the clarification of certain issues regarding the implementation of the approved market values in the City of Baguio.

In its report, the city council’s Committee on Laws, Human Rights, and Justice stated that the increase in the revision of the market values is ‘confiscatory and abusive.’ The revision of the market values has been approved through Ordinance 16-2020. Under the ordinance, 70% of the increase was applied in the first year of implementation of the ordinance (2021) while the remaining 30% will be applied in the second year
(2022).

It can be remembered that, on January 21, the council discussed the plight of taxpayers regarding the
implementation of the approved market values. Almaya Addawe, the city assessor, said the drastic increase in real property taxes in the city was the result of the wide gap in time between the last revision of the fair market value and the current one.

It can be recalled that after the implementation of Ordinance Numbered 101-1995 (Approving and Adopting the Schedule of Fair Market Values for Lands, Buildings, Machinery, Plants and Trees in the City of Baguio), no general revision has been undertaken since then until recently. Addawe explained that, aside from the increase in the fair market value, there are also other factors contributing to the sudden increase in real property taxes such as the change in the actual use of properties.

Over the years, some residential properties in the city have been converted to commercial properties, increasing their assessed values. Some erroneous records were also corrected during the general revision of the schedule of fair market value. One sample of a property shown in the record was incorrectly assessed at P18.48 but now has an assessment value at P18,000.00 with an increase rate of 973,926%.

Based on the report of the city assessor, of the 62,398 taxable properties in the city, there are 5,767 properties with no tax increase. The rest had a tax increase at varying rates due to the increase in the fair
market value, change of land use, and/or correction of erroneous assessments. The rate of tax increase ranges from one percent to 973,926%. The bulk of the properties with tax increase falls within the range
of one percent to 300%.

One recommendation by the city council was the revision of certain provisions of the Ordinance 16-2020 while preparing or waiting for the next reassessment of the market value in order to cushion the financial burden placed on taxpayers. Another recommendation that was brought up was the prospect of granting tax incentives or tax reduction to individuals who have portions in their properties where trees are planted and being maintained.

On May 2, the city council called for the suspension of the implementation of the staggered increase of real property taxes as mandated by the approved market values. The city council stated that the implementation of the increase of real property taxes is untimely, taking into consideration the impact of the
COVID-19 pandemic to real property owners.

Jordan G. Habbiling/ABN

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