tax certificate

Community tax certificate (Philippines)

A community tax cerficate (Filipino: sertipikong buwis ng pamayanan or sedula, from Spanish cédula), also known as a residence certificate, is a legal identity document in the Philippines. Issued by cities and municipalities to all persons that have reached the age of majority and upon payment of a community tax, it is considered as a primary form of identification in the Philippines and is one of the closest single documents the Philippines has to a national system of identification, akin to a driver's license and a passport.


The history of the community tax certificate entails three incarnations dating back to Spanish colonial times. Introduced in an overhaul of the tax system following the Revolt Against the Tribute of 1589 which scrapped the system of tribute, the cédula was issued to all indios between the ages of 18 and 60 upon payment of a residence tax of eight reales or its equivalent in goods, and was paid annually. This tax was later increased to fifteen reales. When the peso fuerte was introduced in 1854, the residence tax became one peso fuerte and seven reales, and when the Philippines decimalized ten years later, the residence tax became one peso fuerte and 87.5 centimos.

The cédula would play an important role in the Philippine Revolution, when Andrés Bonifacio and fellow members of the Katipunan tore up their residence certificates in defiance of Spanish rule during a meeting in Balintawak (present-day Quezon City). This would be known as the Cry of Pugadlawin and signaled the beginning of the Philippine Revolution.

The residence tax, and in turn, the cédula, were abolished with the coming of American rule. No such tax would be imposed again until January 1, 1940, when Commonwealth Act No. 465 went into effect, mandating the imposition of a base residence tax of fifty centavos and an additional tax of one peso based on factors such as income and real estate holdings. The payment of this tax would merit the issue of a residence certificate. However, persons who are ineligible to pay the residence tax may be issued a certificate for twenty centavos. Corporations were also subject to the residence tax.

Commonwealth Act No. 465 mandated that the High Commissioner and his staff, members and employees of the United States Armed Forces, visitors and consular staff were exempt from paying the residence tax, and as such are not given a residence certicate.

Following Philippine independence, the same provisions were kept in effect. However, the changing socio-political climate necessitated the reform of certain provisions of Commonwealth Act No. 465. Significant amendments to the residence tax law were put into effect first in 1973, following the enactment of the Local Tax Code, with amendments on the allocation of the residence tax and on who are covered under it, as well as payment provisions. The same provisions from the Local Tax Code were later subsumed into the Local Government Code of 1991. However, following the pull-out of U.S. forces from the Philippines, community tax exemptions on United States military personnel were likewise abolished, and the residence tax and residence certificate were renamed into the current community tax and community tax certificate.


A community tax certificate contains the following information:

  • Full name
  • Place and date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Civil status
  • Length of residence in the Philippines
  • Length of residence in the city or municipality where the certificate is issued
  • Occupation or calling
  • Right hand thumbmark
  • Signatures of the bearer and the officer issuing it


When used as a primary form of identification, community tax certificates are used when someone acknowledges a document before a notary public, takes an oath of office or is appointed to a government position, receives a license or permit from a government authority, pays government taxes or fees, receives money from a public fund, transacts official business (such as business registration) or receives salaries and wages.

In certain instances, community tax certificates are used as a secondary form of identification, rather than a primary one. Instances where this is the case include applying for a passport.

In other cases, such as voter registration and opening bank accounts, community tax certificates are not a valid form of identification.

Disposition of proceeds

During Spanish times, the fifteen-real residence tax was split between the national and local governments and the Roman Catholic Church. Ten reales proceeded to the national treasury, three reales to the Church and one real each to the local treasury and the diezmo predial (tithe).

In the American period, the residence tax was split between the provincial and local government. One-fourth of all residence tax proceeds went to the general funds of the provinces, one-fourth to the general funds of the cities, municipalities, and municipal districts and two-fourths to the school fund of the cities, municipalities, and municipal districts.

Currently, under the Local Government Code of the Philippines, revenues accrued from levying the community tax are split between city/municipal and barangay governments, with a small portion alloted to the national government to offset the cost of printing the community tax certicates. Community taxes collected by city or municipal governments proceed immediately to the city or municipal treasury, while taxes collected by barangay treasurers are alloted on a half-by-half basis, with fifty percent of the revenues alloted to the city or municipal treasury and the remaining fifty percent to the barangay treasury.

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