TO ease the tax burden of Cebu City business owners, Mayor Tomas Osmeña set a 15 percent cap on the increase of tax assessments after receiving complaints about excessive assessment by the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO).

Osmeña said yesterday that regardless of the increase in the income of business establishments in the city, City Hall will increase their tax dues for this year by 15 percent more than what they paid last year.

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If the taxpayer agrees, the CTO will not bother opening their Book of Accounts, even if their income increased by 50 percent from last year, he said.

The mayor said yesterday that he appreciates City Treasurer Ofelia Oliva’s aggressiveness in collecting taxes, but said some taxpayers have been complaining.

Instead of assessing the accounts of each taxpayer, Osmeña said that the CTO should focus on running after tax delinquents and businesses operating without business

permits.

“Our treasurer is very aggressive and while it is true that many businesses have been under-assessing themselves, our treasurer right now is really hard-hitting that it’s already creating economic hardships for some of our taxpayers,” he told a news conference yesterday.

Policy

The mayor reminded Oliva of the City’s long-standing policy to impose an annual increase of 20 percent in the tax assessment of businesses, which he said he will reduce to 15 percent this year.

Although the City stands to lose revenues to be generated from businesses whose assessed tax due is more than 15 percent, Osmeña believes this is a more manageable and transparent way of collecting taxes.

“Right now they’re averaging 50 percent increase sa ato pa, double and I said that’s too much. I will have to sit down with the City Council and I’m proposing that if there is an increase, we will give a maximum increase of 15 percent in assessment.

And if you agree to that, we will not open your books anymore. If you don’t agree, that’s the time na musud atong examiners,” said Osmeña.

City Hall’s renewal of business permits ended last Wednesday with a total collection of P355 million or over 100 percent more than the P148-million collection last year.

The City’s projected business tax collection this year is P1.2 billion, Oliva said.

In a separate interview yesterday, Oliva told reporters they can exceed P1.2 billion by the end of the year, more so if they will be able to collect tax delinquencies amounting to P500 million.

The amount includes the unpaid taxes of proprietary schools and hospitals that challenged the City’s tax ordinance in court.

Oliva said she will heed the mayor’s instructions but will not increase the tax assessment of taxpayers who can prove that their income decreased or remained the same.

“It’s not fair if we collect 15 percent unya wala ni increase ilang income, or if wala gyud sila nikita... After the renewal of their permits, we will conduct a thorough examination of their tax dues and if we can see that they paid more than their assessed dues, we will immediately make a tax refund but if there is any deficiency, we will collect it,” she said. (LCR)