(File photo)

MANILA – A priority legislation seeking the development of a just, equitable, impartial and nationally consistent real property valuation based on internationally accepted standards has hurdled the third reading at the House of Representatives.

During Monday's plenary session, a total of 254 lawmakers voted to approve House Bill 6558, or the proposed Real Property Valuation and Assessment Reform Act, which is one of the priority legislative measures of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in his State of the Nation Address.

Only four lawmakers voted against the measure, while no one abstained from voting.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, author of the measure, noted that the poor collection efficiency of local government units (LGUs) severely hampers their ability to raise revenues from real properties and correspondingly constrains their ability to provide the necessary services to their constituents.

He said the proposed law mandates the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) of the Department of Finance (DOF) to develop, adopt, maintain and implement uniform valuation standards which shall be used by all appraisers and assessors in the LGUs and other concerned parties in the appraisal or valuation of lands, buildings, machinery and other real properties for taxation and other purposes.

"The proposed bill is designed to address the issues plaguing the current valuation and assessment system in the country, to maximize and optimize local revenue generation and ultimately, to achieve the avowed goal of the LGC (Local Government Code) to make LGUs become genuine partners towards national development and progress," he said.

In coordination with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the BGLF shall review and ensure that the Schedule of Market Values (SMVs) prepared by provincial, city and municipal assessors is compliant with real property valuation policies and standards and recommend its approval to the Secretary of Finance.

For valuation purposes, the bill provides that all real properties, whether taxable or exempt, shall be valued or appraised based on prevailing market values in the locality where the property is situated, in conformity with valuation standards.

The responsibility of preparing the Schedule of Market Values (SMVs) for the different classes of real property will be given to the local government assessors, subject to the valuation standards, rules, regulations and other specifications set by the DOF.

Preparation of the SMVs should be completed within six months following notice from the BLGF to all local assessors to submit their revised SMVs and then submitted to the BLGF Regional Office.

The proposed SMVs will undergo review by the BLGF regional office as well as the BLGF Executive Director and the BIR Commissioner but final approval rests on the shoulders of the Secretary of Finance.

The approved SMVs shall be transmitted to the concerned LGU for the enactment of the appropriate ordinance setting the amended assessment levels and tax rates.

Under the bill, BGLF also has the responsibility to “develop and maintain a comprehensive and up-to-date electronic database of real property transactions and prices of materials for buildings, machinery and other structures” in the country.

The BLGF is also required to formulate and provide for uniform procedures on the different transactions in the assessor’s office, including the transfer, annotation and issuance of tax declarations.

A Real Property Valuation Service (RPVS) shall be created within the BLGF to achieve the objectives of the proposed law.

A Central Consultative Committee (CCC) shall also be created, which shall serve as the consultative forum on matters pertaining to the setting and adoption of internationally-accepted valuation standards and other related concerns on real property valuation.

The bill includes provisions imposing penalties for failure to comply with various provisions of the law, punishing them with fines equivalent to one month to six months' basic salary of the concerned government official or employee or suspension from service not exceeding one year, or both.

Aside from these, any assessor who fails for unjustifiable reasons to prepare the SMVs within the required period may be charged administratively or criminally. (PNA)