Today (May 30th) is the last day for citizens owning properties in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits to file their property tax with five per cent tax rebate. But even after two months of BBMP making the property tax payment system open, citizens have continued to complain of issues with tax payment.
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Earlier this month, one of our readers and property tax expert D R Prakash (who is also the founder-president of Osborne Road Area Residents Welfare Association) wrote an article about the glitches in property tax payment portal. Last week he again wrote an e-mail to Citizen Matters, saying the BBMP has neither rectified the property tax payment portal, nor has it expressed any intention to do so. He demanded that the BBMP extend the rebate period for a few more days, just like how the BBMP extended the period by another month, last year.
In a letter written to the BBMP Commissioner on May 29th, ex-corporator N R Ramesh gave a few examples of how house owners were shocked at seeing the amount of property tax to be paid. For one Aslam Pasha, a resident of Banashankari 2nd Stage, the portal shows Rs 4 crore as the property tax to be paid, while the amount he used to pay till last year was Rs 5,484. In another instance, for B M Srinivasmurthy, a resident of Ittamadu, property tax calculation this year shows Rs 1.59 crore as the amount to be paid, whereas the amount he used to pay for the same property till last year is Rs 6,235.
Citizens have been complaining of the wrong calculations of last year being carried forward to this year too and about the confusion over zonal classification and hike.
‘Error is in wrong details’
However, the BBMP Revenue Section officials deny any such allegations of glitches with the tax calculator software. Prasanna Kumar, Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) says the problems that existed in 2016-17 tax filing have been rectified now.
“In April 2016, we introduced zonal reclassification and fixed the sub-register’s guidance value for the reclassified properties. The tax was enhanced as the land rates were up. And the hike was up to 200 per cent. But the BBMP council found it to be too high, hence revised the tax hike to 20 per cent for residential and 25 per cent for non-residential with effect from May 4th, 2016,” he says.
The property tax of people who paid more as per the reclassification tax enhancement, before May 4th was recalculated as per the tax revision (20 and 25 per cent for residential and non-residential) and it was decided that the additional amount they have paid will be adjusted the next year.
“In April this year, we adjusted the tax of whoever paid more last year. But a lot of them are now complaining that the calculator is showing less amount than the tax amount they have paid last year. Also, several cases are reported of exorbitant tax amount calculation. This could be due to error in entering the form or due to wrong entries and calculation last year,” he says.
The officer explains it with an example. A few property owners have simply calculated their tax hike by 20 or 25 per cent without going for the next zone to which their property belongs to. There are issues with last year’s zonal capping (which has now been rectified with dual calculation system) as well as choosing categories. Several instances are found where taxpayers out of ignorance opt for wrong categories like Central AC or telephone tower, which will obviously end up in enhanced tax amount.
‘People didn’t use the opportunity to correct errors’
He also said that the taxpayers were given an one time opportunity to declare right assessments online from December 14, 2016 to January 14, 2017. “We gave publicity and asked people to rectify the errors that took place in last year’s tax calculation. But only 1,078 of them made use of the opportunity,” he added.
As of this year, for people who have made wrong entries in the form, rectification rights is vested with Assistant Revenue Officers, says Venkatachalapathy, Joint Commissioner of Revenue Section. “This time we have allowed people to rectify things through AROs. AROs are given the login rights,” he said.
But then, there are instances of AROs too not fully aware of rectifying the errors. Citizens are often sent to the BBMP head office to get things clarified. On Saturday (May 27th), the JC said they have organised a second round of training on property tax filing/calculation to AROs.
According to revenue officials, the BBMP has collected Rs 1,000 crore property tax in last two months of SAS tax rebate period.