Taxing time for property owners

The ‘online payment only’ rule for property tax should be implemented gradually, feels K. Sukumaran

After eight years, the BBMP has revised the property tax rates from the year 2016-17. While the revision in itself has brought out a few new dimensions, the process of paying the tax has created many hurdles for the ordinary citizen.

In the past, the ward offices were accepting payments across the counter. In the latest computerised, online dispensation, the BBMP offices have stopped accepting payments. The ward offices now act as mere ‘help centres’ and assist in generating application forms if one tenders the application number relating to the base year, viz., 2008-09 or PID number. These forms have to be printed out and taken to designated bank branches for payment.

As for the designated bank branches, only Canara Bank has come forward with some sort of a system. Even this system has adopted restrictions such as issue of limited number of tokens at the opening hours, and accepting its own cheques for spot issue of receipts. If you have no account with that bank, and you tender cheques/drafts of other banks, the receipt is issued after a week to 10 days’ time.

Procedures apart, accepting only 15-20 applications each day creates untold misery to the large number of general tax-payers.

The online payment system put in operation by BBMP confines itself to properties forming part of the base year (2008-09). Other properties construction of which was completed subsequently and taxes paid are not in the online system.

This is denying the payment facility to owners of properties which have come to existence subsequent to the base year. The manual payment system is also not in place in these cases, may be due to non-computerisation of such data, and applications cannot be generated in these cases. The end issue is that the owners of such properties will not be able to take the benefit of 5% rebate, unless extended beyond April 30, 2016, and delayed payments may also attract interest.

Problem areas

The online payment system will compel many to delay the process of payment of tax. The computer-literate are at an advantage, whereas senior citizens and the “not so educated” will suffer, which amounts to discrimination.

Partly computerising the properties’ data will ultimately result in ‘non-payment’ for non-computerised cases, leading to poor tax collections for the BBMP.

Those property owners who are inclined to pay have no clue as to when a friendly system can be expected.

Role of BBMP, banks and other websites

Some private sites like ‘Home Shikari’ are undertaking the leg work for the tax payer, against payment of a service charge, though they are not very popular among the citizens. The BBMP could recognise such sites and also authorise more banks to accept property tax. BBMP may also accept applications along with drafts as in the past. The ‘online payment only’ may be implemented gradually over 2-3 years. These steps will convenience the property owners and also enable BBMP to collect more taxes without delay.

HomeShikari’s View: Mr. Sunder P (Director)

BBMP makes it difficult for people to pay property taxes. In fact, this year it has been extremely challenging even for service providers like HomeShikari because each year?s taxes have to assessed at the tax office and the challan generated and paid the same day at the bank. Once that is done, then you need to do it for the next year. So handling requests with multiple years of pending taxes will mean as many visits (not single visit) and as many days being wasted at the BBMP offices and the bank.

Courtsey: K. Sukumaran | The Hindu | 29-Apr-16

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