With a staggering P16 billion in uncollected real property taxes, Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada on Wednesday issued an ultimatum to 89,000 delinquent property owners in the city to settle their tax dues or lose their properties in due time.
Estrada gave the delinquent taxpayers until June to pay up, or else the city government, in accordance with the law, will be constrained to auction off their properties to recover the unpaid taxes.
“I’m appealing to the property owners to please settle your tax obligations,” Estrada said. “Otherwise, we will be compelled to conduct public auctions where you will definitely lost ownership of your properties.”
Estrada pointed out the money to be collected from RPT payments will mean so much to the city government in funding socioeconomic programs for the poor, and improving the delivery of basic services to every Manileño.
To ease the burden of the property owners, Estrada signed last January Ordinance No. 8516, cancelling the 40-percent increase in RPT rates that was supposed to take effect this year.
The RPT increase was supposed to be the continuation of the 60-percent increase that had been collected starting Jan. 1, 2014, but Estrada said it is no longer necessary because of the improved financial status of the city government.
City Treasurer Rizal Del Rosario said they have started sending out notices by mail to each of the 89,000 delinquent property owners since January, informing them of their tax dues.
Two more written notices will be sent later on, including the required publication of such notices in major newspapers, before the Office of the City Treasurer can set the date for the public auction, according to Del Rosario.
“As of now we’re still in the process of complying with these prerequisites. Once we have done all these, and those delinquents have not paid up yet, we can issue the Warrant of Levy, for an auction,” he explained.
“So I’m asking them to come up and pay. Once their properties have been auctioned, it’s a pity, they would even blame the city,” Del Rosario pointed out, adding that the public auction tentatively set on June will be the first comprehensive auction of delinquent properties since 2013.
From October 2015 to June 2016, he said the city government implemented a tax amnesty for negligent RPT payers, where they were able to collect P1 billion.
While it is impossible to have a 100-percent collection, Del Rosario said they hope to collect at least P1.5 billion from the overdue tax dues.
“If we can collect P1.5 billion, that would be good enough. That would be very good,” he said.
Once a property is auctioned to a winning bidder, Del Rosario explained the delinquent owner still has one year to redeem it by paying the bid price plus two-percent interest per month and the expenses incurred by the Office of the City Treasurer in conducting the auction.
“Now if they can settle it before June, they can avoid these penalties,” Del Rosario stressed.
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