Local government units of provinces and cities are losing P30.5 billion in revenues each year as a result of outdated real estate values, the Finance Department said Monday.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a statement there was a need for valuation reforms in the real property sector. Such reforms in the real property tax system constitute Package 3 of the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program.
Dominguez said the reforms would invigorate the real estate market, bring in more investments and generate additional revenues for local government units.
“Essentially, real estate is the most valuable asset and biggest financial resource. But its contribution to government revenues, particularly for local governments, has remained dismal due to the outdated schedule of market values, poor collection efficiency and tax administration and lack of uniformity in the valuation of real property,” Dominguez said.
Acting deputy executive director Jose Arnold Tan of the Bureau of Local Government Finance said cities could have collected as much as P23.077 billion in incremental revenues from real property taxes, while provinces could have raised as much as P7.379 billion more if their schedule of market values were updated and in sync with international standards.
Tan said for provinces alone, the P7.4 billion in foregone real property taxes could have built either of the following: 551 public markets, 771 kilometers of roads, 7,542 classrooms or 2,155 daycare centers.
He said the P23 billion in real property taxes that cities failed to collect could have built either 513 transport terminals, 339 landfills, 1,154 satellite health centers or 3,330 low-cost resettlement projects.
Tan said only 36 percent of LGUs have updated SMVs. The rest, which comprised 97 cities and 48 provinces, remained non-compliant on updating their SMVs.
Only 60 percent of the regional district offices of the Bureau of Internal Revenue had updated zonal values, he said.
Tan said that under the outdated system, overvaluation usually happened when the government paid for a piece of real property, but undervaluation often occurred when it was the government’s turn to collect.
“The system is also riddled with multiple overlapping functions as 23 national government agencies can or are required to do valuations, with each using its own system and methodology,” Tan said.
This led to disparities between market values and zonal values by 13 percent to as wide as 94 percent. Between the SMVs and private valuation, the disparity is from 187 percent to 7,474 percent, Tan said.
He said LGUs often overlooked the requirement under the Local Government Code to update their SMVs and zonal values every three years because there were no existing sanctions against local officials that would compel them to comply with the law.
Tan cited a number of reforms that are being proposed by the DoF. These are the adoption of international standards in valuation; establishment of a single valuation base for taxation and benchmarking; the need to insulate valuation from politics, with LGUs continuing to regulate tax rates and assessment levels; improvements in the oversight functions of the national government; and setting up of a comprehensive electronic database to support valuation functions.