With an eye on the target of Rs 3,000 crore in property tax collection during the fiscal 2020-21, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) wants to issue distress warrants to property owners whose arrears add up to more than Rs 5 lakh.
“We are preparing an action plan under the guidance of the BBMP Administrator and Commissioner to collect the property tax that has been pending for quite a long time,’’ says BBMP Special Commissioner (Revenue) Basavaraju S. However, industrialists are worried that this may not be the best time to introduce such tough measures as they have been going through a rough patch due to covid.
BBMP revenue officials are encouraged by the fact that they have managed to collect Rs 2,427 crore by January 6, 2021, which is Rs 30 crore more than the property tax collected during the corresponding period last fiscal year. It had collected Rs 2,397 crore by January 6, 2020.
“We have intensified efforts to collect the property tax arrears. We are organising a video conference with all revenue officers every Wednesday to track the progress of the property tax collection,’’ Basavaraju said.
BBMP revenue inspectors have been directed to collect Rs 500 crore in three months to reach the target of Rs 3,000 crore for the fiscal 2020-21. The authorities were sceptical about the collection of the property tax due to the covid-19 pandemic as many people have lost jobs and business establishments were shut due to the lockdown. The BBMP had collected property tax of Rs 2,729 crore during the last fiscal year 2019-20.
“We are confident of reaching the target of collecting Rs 3,000 crore property tax by the end of March 31. Our Administrator and Commissioner have emphasised on the need of collecting property tax,’’ he said.
The BBMP sources said the property tax worth Rs 1,185 crore was paid online and Rs 1,242 crore was collected through the designated banks till January 6, 2021.
The BBMP earlier had resorted to a drum-beating exercise to collect property tax arrears in 2011. The purpose of this exercise was not only to wake up the property tax defaulters but also to shame them for not delaying the payment of tax. Later, contractors followed a similar method to get pending bills cleared from the BBMP by organising drum-beating in front of the BBMP Head Office.
The other side
However, Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association president KB Arasappa has appealed to the BBMP to postpone collection of property tax to the next year since most of the industrialists are yet to recover from the losses incurred due to the pandemic. “For most property owners who have defaulted property taxes of Rs 5 lakh and above, it would be easier to pay up next year. I am not against BBMP collecting property tax, but I request them to give some breathing space to property owners and industrialists,’’ says Arasappa.
Past president of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry NS Srinivasa Murthy also opposed the BBMP’s plan of issuing a warrant against those who default on property tax worth Rs 5 lakh and above.
“I want the BBMP to give defaulters sufficient time to pay the property tax. It is not the right time to issue a warrant against those who failed to pay the property tax,’’ says Sreenivasa Murthy.