Another tax amnesty looms in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/11 February) – City officials are pushing for another amnesty on interest payments for delinquent real properties in a bid to facilitate the collection of unpaid realty taxes and interests in the area.

The city council passed on second reading on Tuesday a proposed ordinance that would grant an amnesty for all real property tax and interest payments that were due and collectible by the city government as of the end of 2013.

City Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr., chair of the council’s committee on finance, ways and means and city economic enterprises, said the measure aims to accelerate the collection of unpaid real property taxes and interests from delinquent owners.

As of last December 31, he said the city’s uncollected taxes and interests from delinquent real properties already reached around P70 million.

“This is a substantial amount of unrealized revenue. The city needs to strengthen its financial capacity by increasing revenue collection in order to meet the demand for public service delivery,” said Gacal, who authored the ordinance.

Under the proposed ordinance, the official said the amnesty will be granted to all delinquent real property owners through the condonation of their accrued interest as of December 31, 2013.

The amnesty will cover all forms of real properties and their improvements as defined under Section 3 of Ordinance No. 2, series of 1996 or the General Santos City Real Property Tax Code of 1996, he said.

But Gacal said real properties under court litigation are excluded from the coverage of the amnesty grant.

“Delinquent taxes and current year’s taxes shall be paid in full. Provided, interest due on real property taxes for 2014, shall continue to be collected in the manner provided by law and existing rules and regulations,” he noted.

Gacal said all payments made under the amnesty program will be unconditional and no “under protest” payments will be accepted.

The period of availment of the amnesty grant should not go beyond December 15, 2014.

“No public auction of real properties due to non-payment of tax delinquencies will be held and initiated by the city government during the amnesty period. Upon the expiration of the amnesty program, the City Treasurer may proceed with the public auction or civil remedies,” he said.

The official said the local government was authorized to grant the amnesty based on the provisions of Section 192 of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.

He also cited provisions of city ordinance number 2, series of 1996 and ordinance number 29, series of 2003 as amended by ordinance number 10, series of 2004 that had set the previous tax amnesty programs in the city.

“We’re hopeful that the granting of the condonation of interests on delinquent real properties will encourage payment of the unpaid real property taxes and interests and eventually accelerate their collection,” Gacal added. (MindaNews)