‘Sayaw para sa Buhis’ to collect P28B from delinquent taxpayers

THE Cebu City Government has launched a new initiative to optimize tax collection in its bid to help the City fund its historic P50 billion budget, with collecting P28 billion in delinquent real property taxes among its targets.

The Strategic Assessment for Your Assets and Worth (Sayaw) para sa Buhis (for tax) is a special task force initiated by the City that will reinforce and improve tax collection operations.

The new initiative is a way to help Cebu City in tax collection through friendly persuasion, former city treasurer Ofelia Oliva, who is the Sayaw Para sa Buhis project head, said Thursday, June 22, 2023.

The project will move the treasury office closer to taxpayers through satellite offices located at Ayala Central Bloc, CityMall, SM Seaside City Cebu, Gaisano Country Mall and Robinsons Galleria.

The 80 barangays of Cebu City will be divided into six clusters and will be assigned either to the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) or the nearest satellite office.

Cebu City Legal Officer Jerone Castillo said in a press conference at City Hall that Central Bloc will be utilized as a command center in the future and that it will provide information in real time.

Oliva said this is a good opportunity for the malls that have cooperated with the city since it will provide them with foot traffic and other business opportunities. City Treasurer Mare Vae Reyes said all types of taxes will be collected through the program.

“Taxes are always considered burdensome. Many of us dislike paying taxes. That is the sad truth. With the Sayaw Para sa Buhis, the City aims to not only enhance the collection efficiency of the city but also to develop a change of the mindset of the people in paying their taxes,” said Reyes.

The project is also set to collect the accumulated delinquent taxes that have totaled P28 billion.

“As recorded by the MICS (Management Information and Computer Services) office, we have P28 billion delinquent in real property taxes,” said Oliva.

The city’s Task Force Kasaligan is tasked to go to the field and send out demand letters to offices and individuals who have delinquent taxes.

Reyes also said the project seeks to ask help from the barangays to locate these delinquent taxpayers since they know where these individuals are.

Oliva said around 45 percent of the involved entities have been given demand letters, and that it is mostly commercial properties and machinery that comprise the bulk of the delinquent taxes.

Oliva is hopeful and positive that through the project, they will be able to locate and use untapped sources of revenues as well as collect the delinquent taxes to help with the City’s P50 billion budget.

The P50 billion budget for this year is a more than 450 percent jump from Cebu City’s budget of nearly P9 billion in 2022.

Innovative

Oliva is known for her innovative schemes to encourage taxpayers to pay their taxes.

In October 2010, Oliva, then Cebu City treasurer, attracted the attention of national and international media organizations with her dancing tax collectors who performed dance routines twice a day at the CTO. She said dancing was their way of attracting delinquent taxpayers to come to City Hall and eventually pay their taxes.

In December 2010, she sent 50 singing tax collectors to perform Christmas carols in business establishments in the city, especially those that hadn’t paid their dues yet.

In January 2012, Oliva said that although there was no proof that the dancing raised collections, the attention it generated added to taxpayers’ awareness. In the same month, she launched the “City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) Got Talent,” a competition about being the most efficient tax collector. (with CTL)