CTA jurisdiction vs. RTC local tax cases

On June 16, 1954, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 1125 (RA 1125) creating the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) and giving to the said court jurisdiction over the following:
(1) Decisions of the Collector of Internal Revenue in cases involving disputed assessments, refunds of internal revenue taxes, fees or other charges, penalties imposed in relation thereto, or other matters arising under the National Internal Revenue Code or other law or part of law administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue;

(2) Decisions of the Commissioner of Customs in cases involving liability for customs duties, fees or other money charges; seizure, detention or release of property affected fines, forfeitures or other penalties imposed in relation thereto; or other matters arising under the Customs Law or other law or part of law administered by the Bureau of Customs; and

(3) Decisions of provincial or City Boards of Assessment Appeals in cases involving the assessment and taxation of real property or other matters arising under the Assessment Law, including rules and regulations relative thereto.
On March 30, 2004, the Legislature passed into law Republic Act No. 9282 (RA 9282) amending RA 1125 by expanding the jurisdiction of the CTA, enlarging its membership and elevating its rank to the level of a collegiate court with special jurisdiction. Pertinent portions of the amendatory act provides thus:
Sec. 7. Jurisdiction. - The CTA shall exercise:
a. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal, as herein provided:
1. Decisions of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in cases involving disputed assessments, refunds of internal revenue taxes, fees or other charges, penalties in relation thereto, or other matters arising under the National Internal Revenue or other laws administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue;

2. Inaction by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in cases involving disputed assessments, refunds of internal revenue taxes, fees or other charges, penalties in relations thereto, or other matters arising under the National Internal Revenue Code or other laws administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, where the National Internal Revenue Code provides a specific period of action, in which case the inaction shall be deemed a denial;

3. Decisions, orders or resolutions of the Regional Trial Courts in local tax cases originally decided or resolved by them in the exercise of their original or appellate jurisdiction;

4. Decisions of the Commissioner of Customs in cases involving liability for customs duties, fees or other money charges, seizure, detention or release of property affected, fines, forfeitures or other penalties in relation thereto, or other matters arising under the Customs Law or other laws administered by the Bureau of Customs;

5. Decisions of the Central Board of Assessment Appeals in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction over cases involving the assessment and taxation of real property originally decided by the provincial or city board of assessment appeals;

6. Decisions of the Secretary of Finance on customs cases elevated to him automatically for review from decisions of the Commissioner of Customs which are adverse to the Government under Section 2315 of the Tariff and Customs Code;

7. Decisions of the Secretary of Trade and Industry, in the case of nonagricultural product, commodity or article, and the Secretary of Agriculture in the case of agricultural product, commodity or article, involving dumping and countervailing duties under Section 301 and 302, respectively, of the Tariff and Customs Code, and safeguard measures under Republic Act No. 8800, where either party may appeal the decision to impose or not to impose said duties.
b. Jurisdiction over cases involving criminal offenses as herein provided:
1. Exclusive original jurisdiction over all criminal offenses arising from violations of the National Internal Revenue Code or Tariff and Customs Code and other laws administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue or the Bureau of Customs: Provided, however, That offenses or felonies mentioned in this paragraph where the principal amount of taxes and fees, exclusive of charges and penalties, claimed is less than One million pesos ( P 1,000,000.00) or where there is no specified amount claimed shall be tried by the regular Courts and the jurisdiction of the CTA shall be appellate. Any provision of law or the Rules of Court to the contrary notwithstanding, the criminal action and the corresponding civil action for the recovery of civil liability for taxes and penalties shall at all times be simultaneously instituted with, and jointly determined in the same proceeding by the CTA, the filing of the criminal action being deemed to necessarily carry with it the filing of the civil action, and no right to reserve the filing of such civil action separately from the criminal action will be recognized.

2. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction in criminal offenses:

a. Over appeals from the judgments, resolutions or orders of the Regional Trial Courts in tax cases originally decided by them, in their respected territorial jurisdiction.

b. Over petitions for review of the judgments, resolutions or orders of the Regional Trial Courts in the exercise of their appellate jurisdiction over tax cases originally decided by the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in their respective jurisdiction.

c. Jurisdiction over tax collection cases as herein provided:

1. Exclusive original jurisdiction in tax collection cases involving final and executory assessments for taxes, fees, charges and penalties: Provides, however, that collection cases where the principal amount of taxes and fees, exclusive of charges and penalties, claimed is less than One million pesos ( P 1,000,000.00) shall be tried by the proper Municipal Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court and Regional Trial Court.

2. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction in tax collection cases:
a. Over appeals from the judgments, resolutions or orders of the Regional Trial Courts in tax collection cases originally decided by them, in their respective territorial jurisdiction.

b. Over petitions for review of the judgments, resolutions or orders of the Regional Trial Courts in the Exercise of their appellate jurisdiction over tax collection cases originally decided by the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, in their respective jurisdiction.[1]
A perusal of the above provisions would show that, while it is clearly stated that the CTA has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over decisions, orders or resolutions of the RTCs in local tax cases originally decided or resolved by them in the exercise of their original or appellate jurisdiction,there is no categorical statement under RA 1125 as well as the amendatory RA 9282, which provides that the CTA has jurisdiction over petitions for certiorari assailing interlocutory orders issued by the RTC in local tax cases filed before it.

The prevailing doctrine is that the authority to issue writs of certiorari involves the exercise of original jurisdiction which must be expressly conferred by the Constitution or by law and cannot be implied from the mere existence of appellate jurisdiction.[2] Thus, in the cases of Pimentel v. COMELEC,[3] Garcia v. De Jesus,[4] Veloria v. COMELEC,[5] Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board v. Lubrica,[6] and Garcia v. Sandiganbayan,[7] this Court has ruled against the jurisdiction of courts or tribunals over petitions for certiorari on the ground that there is no law which expressly gives these tribunals such power.[8] It must be observed, however, that with the exception of Garcia v. Sandiganbayan,[9] these rulings pertain not to regular courts but to tribunals exercising quasi-judicial powers.

With respect to the Sandiganbayan, Republic Act No. 8249[10] now provides that the special criminal court has exclusive original jurisdiction over petitions for the issuance of the writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, injunctions, and other ancillary writs and processes in aid of its appellate jurisdiction.

However, in City City of Manila v. Cuerdo, the Supreme Court held that the CTA has certiorari powers over RTC decisions, orders or resolutions in local tax cases.[11]

[1] G.R. No. 175723, February 04, 2014.

[2] Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board v. Lubrica, 497 Phil. 313, 322 (2005); Veloria v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 94771, July 29, 1992, 211 SCRA 907, 915.

[3] 189 Phil. 581 (1980).

[4] G.R. Nos. 88158 and 97108-09, March 4, 1992, 206 SCRA 779.

[5] Supra note 20.

[6] Supra note 20.

[7] G.R. No. 114135, October 7, 1994, 237 SCRA 552.

[8] Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board v. Lubrica, supra note 20; Veloria v. COMELEC, supra note 20; Garcia v. Sandiganbayan, id. at 563-564; Garcia v. De Jesus, supra note 22, at 787-788; Pimentel v. COMELEC, supra note 21, at 587.

[9] Supra note 25.

[10] An Act Further Defining the Jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, Amending for the Purpose Presidential Decree No. 1606, As Amended, Providing Funds Therefor, And for Other Purposes.

[11] G.R. No. 175723, February 04, 2014.

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