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CA junks appeal by UP from paying taxes

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Court of Appeals  (ca.judiciary.gov.ph)

Court of Appeals
(ca.judiciary.gov.ph)

MANILA, June 7 (Mabuhay) – The Court of Appeals has dismissed an appeal filed by the University of the Philippines seeking exemption from paying more than P19-million worth of registration fees in a contract it entered with a private property developer.

In a 12-page ruling written by Associate Justice Leoncia Real-Dimagiba and concurred in by Associate Justices Rosmari Carandang and Ricardo Rosario, the CA’s Fifth Division denied for lack of merit the petition for certiorari filed by the UP management assailing the letter/ruling dated Feb. 4, 2010 issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources denying the former’s appeal from the verdict of the Land Registration Authority.

The LRA denied UP’s request for exemption from paying registration fee worth P19,254,128 representing registration fees in the contract of lease it entered in 2007 with Ayala Land, Inc. for the development of the UP North Science and Technology Park, Phase I.

Citing Section 23(3), Article VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, UP claimed the request was grounded on the constitutional provision that all lands, and improvements, actually directly, and exclusively used for educational purposes shall be exempted from taxation.

The UP’s requests and pleas were both denied.

This prompted the state university to elevate the case to the CA.

The LRA ruled the exemption is only from the payment of taxes assessed on all lands, buildings, and improvements used exclusively for such purposes, as property taxes, as contradisintiguished (to distinguish by contrasting qualities) from excise taxes.

As to the UP’s case, the LRA said what the collector assessed was a donee’s gift tax, the assessment was not on the properties themselves.

However, the CA ruled the DENR “[d]id not act with grave abuse of discretion when it failed to act on petitioner’s appeal.”

“DENR’s refusal to entertain the appeal was due to its lack of appellate jurisdiction over decisions or orders issued by the LRA…” the CA ruling said. (MNS)

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