legal knowledge base

Popular Posts

May 11, 2008

G.R. No. 149110, April 9, 2003

  • TAXATION: The most effective means to raise revenues; LGU's Power of Taxation, exception to Non-delegation of taxing power; Tax Exemptions, construed strongly against the claimant


NPC, a GOCC, created under CA 120 as amended, selling electric power, was assessed by the City of Cabanatuan for franchise tax pursuant to sec. 37 of Ordinance No. 165-92. NPC refused to pay the tax assessment on the grounds that the City of Cabanatuan has no authority to impose tax on government entities and also that it is exempted as a non-profit organization. For its part, the City government alleged that NPC’s exemption from local taxes has been repealed by sec. 193 of RA 7160.


  • Whether NPC is liable to pay an annual franchise tax to the City government


One of the most significant provisions of the LGC is the removal of the blanket exclusion of instrumentalities and agencies of the national government from the coverage of local taxation. Although as a general rule, LGUs cannot impose taxes, fees or charges of any kind on the National Government, its agencies and instrumentalities, this rule now admits an exception, i.e., when specific provisions of the LGC authorize the LGUs to impose taxes, fees or charges on the aforementioned entities.

As commonly used, a franchise tax is "a tax on the privilege of transacting business in the state and exercising corporate franchises granted by the state." It is not levied on the corporation simply for existing as a corporation, upon its property or its income, but on its exercise of the rights or privileges granted to it by the government. Hence, a corporation need not pay franchise tax from the time it ceased to do business and exercise its franchise. It is within this context that the phrase "tax on businesses enjoying a franchise" in section 137 of the LGC should be interpreted and understood. Verily, to determine whether the petitioner is covered by the franchise tax in question, the following requisites should concur: (1) that petitioner has a "franchise" in the sense of a secondary or special franchise; and (2) that it is exercising its rights or privileges under this franchise within the territory of the respondent city government.

NPC fulfills both requisites. To stress, a franchise tax is imposed based not on the ownership but on the exercise by the corporation of a privilege to do business. The taxable entity is the corporation which exercises the franchise, and not the individual stockholders. By virtue of its charter, petitioner was created as a separate and distinct entity from the National Government. It can sue and be sued under its own name, and can exercise all the powers of a corporation under the Corporation Code.

We also do not find merit in the petitioner's contention that its tax exemptions under its charter subsist despite the passage of the LGC.

As a rule, tax exemptions are construed strongly against the claimant. Exemptions must be shown to exist clearly and categorically, and supported by clear legal provisions. In the case at bar, the petitioner's sole refuge is section 13 of Rep. Act No. 6395 exempting from, among others, "all income taxes, franchise taxes and realty taxes to be paid to the National Government, its provinces, cities, municipalities and other government agencies and instrumentalities."

It is worth mentioning that section 192 of the LGC empowers the LGUs, through ordinances duly approved, to grant tax exemptions, initiatives or reliefs.77 But in enacting section 37 of Ordinance No. 165-92 which imposes an annual franchise tax "notwithstanding any exemption granted by law or other special law," the respondent city government clearly did not intend to exempt the petitioner from the coverage thereof.

Doubtless, the power to tax is the most effective instrument to raise needed revenues to finance and support myriad activities of the local government units for the delivery of basic services essential to the promotion of the general welfare and the enhancement of peace, progress, and prosperity of the people. As this Court observed in the Mactan case, "the original reasons for the withdrawal of tax exemption privileges granted to government-owned or controlled corporations and all other units of government were that such privilege resulted in serious tax base erosion and distortions in the tax treatment of similarly situated enterprises." With the added burden of devolution, it is even more imperative for government entities to share in the requirements of development, fiscal or otherwise, by paying taxes or other charges due from them.

"IN VIEW WHEREOF, the instant petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated March 12, 2001 and July 10, 2001, respectively, are hereby AFFIRMED."


Copyright © Scire Licet | Powered by Blogger
Design by Duan Zhiyan | Blogger Theme by