Tax Digest

Crisanto M. Aala, et al. vs. Hon. Rey T. Uy, in his capacity as the City Mayor of Tagum City, Davao del Norte, et al.

G.R. No. 202781, January 10, 2017

Leonen, J.

FACTS:

Petitioner in this case question the validity of City Ordinance No. 558, s-2012 of the City of Tagum, Davao del Norte. The proposed ordinance sought to adopt a new schedule of market values and assessment levels of real properties in Tagum City During the hearing for the opposition to the Ordinance conducted by the Sanggunian’s Committee on Ways and Means/Games and Amusement, petitioners Aala and Ferido asserted that the proposed ordinance classified and valued those properties located in a predominantly commercial area as commercial, regardless of the purpose to which they were devoted.  According to them, this was erroneous because real property should be classified, valued, and assessed not according to its location but on the basis of actual use. Moreover, they pointed out that the proposed ordinance imposed exorbitant real estate taxes, which the residents of Tagum City could not afford to pay. Nonetheless, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Tagum City passed Resolution No. 874, s-2012 declaring City Ordinance No. 558, s-2012 as valid.

Alarmed by the impending implementation of City Ordinance No. 558, s-2012, petitioners filed before this Court an original action for Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus. Petitioners allege that Tagum City is predominantly agricultural.  The income level of its 240,000 inhabitants remains constant, and due to unreasonable business taxes, most businesses have either scaled down or closed.  Set against this factual backdrop, petitioners assail the validity of City Ordinance No. 558, s-2012.

ISSUE:

Whether or not City Ordinance No. 558, s-2012 is unconstitutional for violation of the equal protection clause, due process clause, and the rule on uniformity in taxation

HELD:

The Supreme Court denied the petition for serious procedural errors. The issues presented are questions of fact. To determine whether the schedule of fair market values conforms to the principle of actual use requires evidence from the person or persons who prepared it. These individuals must show the process and method they employed in arriving at the schedule of market values.

It is worth mentioning that several of petitioners’ assertions, on which their arguments are based, are purely speculative. For instance, petitioners claim that the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Tagum City usurped the City Assessor’s authority in fixing the schedule of fair market values.  Yet, they offer no evidence to support their allegation. They merely rely on a comparison between the new schedule of market values and the schedule of market values in a previous ordinance.

In order to resolve these factual issues, the Court will be tasked to receive evidence from both parties. However, the initial reception and appreciation of evidence are functions that the Supreme Court cannot perform. These functions are best left to the trial courts. This Court is not a trier of facts.  The factual issues in this case should have been raised and ventilated in the proper forum.

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