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QC’s 20% real estate tax hike DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 10/28/2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

QC’s 20% real estate tax hike

Herman Tiu Laurel
The Quezon City (QC) mayor has a P500-million pork barrel while every city councilor has a P44-million annual budget. These are over and above the city’s entire budget of P2.7 billion per annum. QC already has one of the highest tax structures in the country. Its residence certificate tax alone is 10 times higher than Makati’s. And even as those in city hall officialdom claim to be pro-poor — the reason they green-lighted this controversial Socialized Housing Tax (SHT) ordinance last Oct. 25 — QC has one of the highest employment taxes in the country.

Quezon City has ordinances taxing everything, including the office coffee maker. It has a tax on household water pumps even if the homeowner, not the local government, has invested in its drilling, installation, and procurement (notwithstanding the fact that the water pump is to be situated within his own property). It has an environmental tax but with no environmental services. It taxes fast food outlets operating in malls that already pay environmental service fees — charges which are then passed on to the mall’s tenants — thereby illegally taxing these small stall owners twice. And the list goes on.

Unfortunately, QC has been virtually under the same city administration since Edsa II; it is expected to continue through several more terms unless its citizens wake up to the truth about the corrupt dynasty that has entrenched itself in city hall.
Although 2010 brought in a change of name in the Mayor’s Office, with the electoral victory of the former vice mayor, comedian Herbert “Bistek” Bautista, for all intents and purposes, the ancien régime continues not only because a very young daughter of the previous mayor is now Bautista’s vice but primarily because the old boys of Sonny Belmonte continue to “rule the roost.”

For instance, the former city treasurer, touted as having generated a P6.5-billion budget surplus, is now the city administrator; while behind the scenes is Taddy Palma whose name elicits from QC Circle locators a raised hand with thumb and middle finger formed into a circle.

In the last elections where the former mayor campaigned for his congressional seat, media were flooded with glowing reports of his surplus of P6.5 billion in the city’s coffers. This one from the Philippine Star, dated June 20, 2010 by Reiner Padua, said, “After nine years of being mayor of Quezon City, congressman-elect Feliciano Belmonte Jr. will be leaving the city government with P6.5-billion cash on hand and in banks.”
Yeah, right!

If there is this surplus in Quezon City trumpeted just a little over a year ago, then why did current Mayor Herbert Bautista, Vice Mayor Josefina Belmonte, and the city council deem it necessary to pass a new real estate tax of P180 million or so, purportedly for “socialized housing” or SHT?

When confronted by this P6.5-billion surplus claim, Mayor Bautista simply denies its existence or says that the entire amount has already been used up for salaries and whatnot — which is highly improbable.
So who is lying, Mayor Bautista or the former mayor and his city treasurer, now administrator Vic Endriga? Can the vice mayor-daughter of Belmonte tell us who the liar is among them?

Mayor Bautista, along with his political caboodle in Quezon City, says the tax is a “measly” 0.05 percent of every P100,000 assessed value of real estate property; but that is deceptive and misleading to the extreme.
Based on the “basic real estate tax” for urban centers in Metro Manila of 2 percent, the tax hike approved by the current QC administration adds 0.05 percent for every P100,000 of assessed value, which means P5,000 in SHT for a P1-million property. This is aside from the P20,000 representing the 2-percent basic tax, which means that the SHT is actually an increase of 20 percent or more!

Many Quezon City civic leaders have gone to the city council hearing to oppose this, with city officials, particularly councilors, not being able to give sufficient and rational justification for the measure. One of the most vehement in imposing this tax hike is the “pro-poor” 4th District Councilor Edcel “Grex” Lagman Jr., son of a prominent House apologist for Gloria Arroyo, leading QC residents and homeowners to shake their heads and say, “So young, so c...”

Then, as if to assuage the anger of taxpayers, the city council promises to rebate this exaction five years later — liars all!

If the city council and administration want to do something right for a change, they can begin by investigating the P6.5-billion surplus of Belmonte that is now nowhere to be found. They should also cleanse themselves of the reeking stink from the 3,000 ghost employees that the new Commission on Audit uncovered in city councilors’ payrolls, amounting to over P200 million a year (which investigation was triggered by our July 15 “Quezon City CoA-llusion?” article).

Further, the city council should investigate the North Triangle urban poor relocation scandal involving hundreds of millions and the “favorite contractor” of Belmonte and a former FVR Finance man alleged to have headed the “QC government’s real property pilferage.”

But instead of doing good for QC residents who are filling their city’s coffers with tax payments, these local politicians prefer to keep milking the city’s taxpayers for their imagined “pro-poor” socialized housing program, which is just an excuse for more graft.

Quezon City residents interested in studying the abuse of their city’s taxes can visit http://www.better-qc.org set up by QC anti-graft crusaders Johnny Chang, Rod Kapunan, Andy Rosales, et al. We understand that court suits are already being prepared against this tax hike. Maybe they might as well consider “Occupy QC Hall” very soon.

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Saturday, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8 — this week: “Quezon City Homeowners Oppose 20% Real Estate Tax Hike;” visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)
(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111028com5.html


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