In Iloilo, barangay officials go after remiss taxpayers
ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Through the help of officials in 1,721 barangays (villages) and the implementation of a tax amnesty, the provincial government of Iloilo is hopeful of doubling its real property tax (RPT) collection by the end of 2014.
The incentive? The higher a barangay's collection, the more funds it gets as RPT share.
“Aside from helping the provincial government reap its target, they also help their own barangays because 25 percent of the basic realty tax paid will go to their respective general fund that would augment their local source of income,” said local treasury operations offficer Fatima Bayona.
The campaign is called “Hulag Barangay! Lihok sang Amnestiya Ginasuporta” or Hublag (roughly translated as “Move Barangay! Support Action Amnesty).
By the end of the year, the provincial government aims at doubling the P366.47 million in RPT that it collected in 2013, by aggressively collecting an estimated P300 million from delinquent real property taxpayers.
Data from the Provincial Treasurer’s Office (PTO) showed that with the implementation of the tax amnesty, collection from January to June 2014 amounted to P231.11 million already – a significant increase from the P172.85 million collected in the same period last year.
As of July, the collection had increased to P248.32 million.
Half of the total RPT collection will go to the Special Education Fund – a diversion from the mandated 1% of RPT. The other half will be divided between the provincial government (35%), municipal governents (40%), and the barangays (25%).
According to Bayona, considering that Iloilo is an agricultural province, it is the agriculture sector which has the biggest contributors to the tax collection.
As to municipalities, first class towns with commercial and industrial businesses have bigger collection.
The treasury officer said they find it hard to collect taxes from properties covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and those from far-flung barangays.
Some CARP beneficiaries think that since they covered by agrarian reform, they are no longer obliged to pay taxes, she said.
PTO record showed that from April 2012 to May 2014, total tax collected from CARP-covered properties reached P12,799,394.25.
Under Hublag, barangay officials secure from their respective municipal treasurers the master list of all delinquent real property owners in their respective barangays.
They then identify the status of the property, its occupants and the heirs, if the declared owner is already dead, update the records, and identify the correct person to be notified of the bills.
Based on the list, the barangay officials will assist in the door-to-door distribution of tax bills or realty tax notices. They will also help in following up on the taxpayers.
While identifying both delinquent and non-delinquent RPT payers, barangays officials are to conduct information campaigns (pulong-pulong), focusing on issues like the availment of the tax amnesty and discounts.
The barangays' RPT collection performance will be graded this way: 75% for how much each of them will be able to collect against their respective targets; 25% for how they conducted tax education and information campaigns.
The tax amnesty program was put in place to lessen the burden on those who were severely affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013 and Typhoon Quinta in December 2012. – Rappler.com
(The writer is with the Story Hub Visayas, a citizen journalism portal based in Iloilo City. The Hub delivers reports from across the Panay Island, which includes the provinces of Iloilo, Antique, Capiz, and Aklan.)