Tax court returns to RTC the LRT tax refund suit vs. Manila

By Benjamin Pulta

January 10, 2024, 5:05 pm

<p><em>(File photo) </em></p>

(File photo) 

MANILA – The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) has remanded to the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) a case involving local business taxes imposed by the City of Manila over the operator of Light Rail Transit-1.

In its 15-page decision dated January 4 written by Associate Justice Corazon G. Ferrer-Flores, the tax court granted the petition of the Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), operator of LRT-1.

The firm had appealed the ruling of the Manila RTC, which was dismissed for being filed out of time the firm's suit questioning the Manila LGU's (local government unit) imposition of local business taxes amounting to PHP12.5 million for 2019.

The CTA in its ruling said contrary to the Manila court's decision, the firm's suit had not been filed out of time and remanded the case back to the Manila RTC (Br. 55) for further proceedings.

The tax court also said the lower court erred when it applied Sec. 195 of the Local Government Code which provides that a taxpayer may file a protest within 60 days from the receipt of a notice of assessment (NOA).

The court said the applicable provision is Sec. 196 of the same law that provides for a two-year period from the payment of a tax, which the taxpayer had erroneously or illegally collected to seek a refund.

"Considering the absence of a NOA in the instant case, this Court finds that Section 196 of the LGC of 1991 applies instead," it added.

LRMC operates and maintains 20 stations of LRT with 12 stations in Manila. The LGU had issued statements of accounts for the first quarter of 2019 when LRMC applied for the renewal of its business permits and licenses in 2019.

In March 2019, the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) rendered an opinion confirming the exemption of LRMC's rail revenue from LBT (local business tax) and local permits prompting the firm to institute a claim for refund. (PNA)