Thursday, July 25, 2024

BMC’s Online Property Tax Bill Publication Sparks Confusion Amidst Alleged Hike Controversy

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) raised eyebrows and generated confusion among citizens and public representatives with the online publication of Property Tax bills on its website. The bills, issued for the fiscal year 2023-24, came with a perceived hike, leading to unrest among the recipients.

The contentious issue arose from a footnote in the bill, which highlighted that the court had deemed three rules of the Capital Valuation rules as invalid. Additionally, it stated that the bills were being issued on a security/adhoc basis, reserving the right for the civic body to reassess properties retroactively and collect taxes accordingly following the announcement of a revised policy on assessment.

Municipal Commissioner Chahal moved to clarify the situation on Saturday, asserting that while no hard copies of bills had been issued, terms such as ‘bill payable’ and ‘bill amount’ were used on the BMC website. This was attributed to the recent Supreme Court order regarding property taxation and legal opinions obtained by the property tax department, contributing to the prevailing confusion.

To dispel ambiguity, Chahal assured that actual property tax bills would be raised, mentioning only the payable amount. He emphasized that the payable amount for the current financial year would remain consistent with the previous year, affirming that there had been no increase in property tax for the ongoing fiscal year.

A senior BMC official informed TOI that the BMC had approached the state for an amendment to property tax regulations in the MMC Act 1888, following a legal opinion sought after the Supreme Court order. The amendment is anticipated to be presented in the assembly.

The BMC’s last revision of property tax occurred in 2015, with subsequent deferrals in 2020-21 and 2021-22 due to the impact of Covid-19. In 2022-23, the revision was postponed for another year. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court rejected a review petition by the BMC challenging a Bombay High Court order from 2019 that invalidated certain rules related to retrospective tax assessment.

Former corporator Asif Zakaria, who paid the generated bill for his housing society, expressed skepticism about the BMC administration’s explanation. He questioned the purported 15 to 20 percent hike in the bills, emphasizing that if the property tax remained unchanged, the system’s generation of bills with increased amounts raised concerns about the billing process.

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