As usual, property tax payment procedures have run into problems this year too. Collection started on April 1; those who pay before April 30 will get a rebate of 5% on the tax. But with poorly organised collection procedures, tax payment is getting delayed for many.
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For one, adequate number of forms was not available in the Citizen Service Centres (CSCs) where tax has to be paid. Many people, including senior citizens, had to make repeated visits to procure forms.
Though Bangalore One centres were supposed to collect taxes, this has not been arranged yet. Currently tax can be paid only at those CSCs where you have paid tax for the previous years. Any arrear can also be cleared here. Tax can be paid in a different CSC within the same ward too.
Bangalore One centres were to start collecting taxes by Apr 11th, according Gangaboraiah J B, ARO (JP Nagar) who said this to Citizen Action Forum member N Mukund. Current situation, as on Apr 12th is that some centres (like the one at Court complex) hadn’t got any forms or instruction to collect tax.
In CSCs, a single cheque can be made for property tax and garbage cess. However this leads to confusion in the acknowledgement form of the property tax section, where the cheque no and cheque amount need to be stated.
For arrears, only DDs are accepted in some centres. Cash can be paid only if the tax amount is less than Rs 1,000.
Ramakanth says, “Since many cheques bounce, we give only an acknowledgement slip first. Receipt will be given after the cheque is realised. If payee gives a self-addressed envelope, receipt can be sent to his address also. We are planning to phase out cheques; from next year we might accept DD only.”
Payment can be made through credit/debit card also at CSCs. Card reading machines were not supplied to all centres initially, but BBMP says that this problem is fixed now.
Online payment system was activated on April 6 only. “Within two hours of activation, 400 people paid online,” says Ramakanth.
D R Prakash, an expert in property tax matters, has pointed out many discrepencies in the forms issued by BBMP. Look out for this article online.
All 260 CSCs in the city are collecting tax. The list of centres in your area is available here.
Discrepancies remain in the form
D R Prakash, President of Osborne Road welfare association, with his many of Property Tax expertise points out that many items in the form are carry over from previous years forms and remain ambiguous or do not make sense. For example,
– The form is for "FOR THE SECOND AND SUBSEQUENT YEAR IN THE BLOCK PERIOD", though these forms are meant only for this particular financial year.
– Column 2 asks "Have you filed a revised return for the year previous year". Does it mean for the year 2007-08? Column 3 has a similar question: "Have you filed a revised return in Form V for the year previous year (2010-11)"
– Column 8 is about ward number & name, both old & new, which tax filers had already entered in the previous year and hence is unnecessary. Anyways there has been no revision of wards in the last year.
– Instruction 1 says, “If revised return in Form V for any year has been filed, then the return for the current year shall be in Form IV". Form IV is meant to be used where there is no change in the use of the property. FORM V is for when there is a change either in the extent of built up area, usage (residential to nonresidential or vice versa) or its occupancy (owner occupied to tenanted or vise versa), or change in category from the declaration filed in the previous year.
So does this mean if there are changes in the present year, we need not file returns in Form V? The online instructions include this helpful point: If revised return for any year has been filed, then the return for the current year shall be on the basis of revised return filed."
– Instruction 3 is a repeat of confusion of the previous years. "Depreciation for the block period 2011-12 & 2012-13 is also not available for the current year". This doesn’t make sense, a single year cannot make a block period. 2011-12 and 2012-13 are continuation of the same block, that started in 2008-09. How can depreciation for the forthcoming years be available for the current year? Depreciation was already calculated during the calculation of tax for 2008-09, and we are using the same amount from that time.
– In part II, date for availing discount (30-04-2011)is mentioned, whereas in instructions, it says "If tax paid before the last date notified to avail rebate". Why no consistancy?
– The garbage cess mentions plinth area as the basis, explaining "To avoid ambiguity, plinth area means builtup area". The instructions refer to a rule:
"Built up area" means total area covered by building or high rise buildings above the plinth level, and including all covered area like basement, mezzanine flooring, balcony whether covered or not; garage area, constructed boundary of swimming pool, fuel storage tanks onstructed underground or above the ground, storage of merchandise in open space like timber, granite, bricks etc, stilts meant for parking and telecommunication and other towers and hoardings erected on the surface or top or any other open space of land or building but does not include,-
(a) court yard at the ground level, garden, rocky area, well and well structures, plant, nursery latform around a tree, overhead water tank, fountain, bench with open top and the like;
(b) drainage, culvert, conduit, catch-pit, gully pit, chamber gutter and the like;
(c) compound or boundary wall, chejja, uncovered staircase, watchman booth/pump house not exceeding three-square meters and sump tank.
BBMP could have just used the phrase builtup area. Plinth area afterall refers the footprint of the house on the land!
– The SWM form DOES NOT carry serial number. The applicant is supposed to write the same. There are chances of making mistake in this.
– When tax is calculated annually, SWM cess is calculated on monthly basis. Again, a chance to go wrong and a time consuming exercise. Why should it not be fixed on a annual basis. For example, instead of monthly Rs 10, an annual fee of Rs 120 would have made things simpler.
Says Chandrasekhara V S, a senior citizen from JP Nagar, "Nobody can add or construct a building without the plan approval. Hence BBMP knows whether any addition is there to the existing building.Only those people have to fill a new application form and the rest need not. This can save a lot of paper and related work."