FOUR YEARS after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) came up with a plan to seize moveable properties — computers, furniture, sofas, televisions, refrigerators, air-conditioners and other valuables — if property tax defaulters in Mumbai did not pay up in time, the civic body on Wednesday launched an awareness drive to make residents aware of the rules, which are set to be implemented soon.
In 2016, the corporation had decided to disconnect the water connection of defaulters for three weeks to recover dues. If the defaulters still did not pay up, the BMC had proposed to seize moveable properties, except stree dhan (gold gifted to a woman at her wedding). It was also decided to seal lifts and entrance to the property to recover tax from the owner.
Among these, the rules to disconnect the water connections of defaulters and sealing lifts and entrances of properties had been implemented since 2016.
Dr Sangita Hasnale, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of BMC’s assessment and collection department, told The Indian Express that for the first time, BMC has now decided to seize moveable properties belonging to the defaulter. “First, we are targeting commercial properties, then we will move to residential and individual properties. We will seize valuables, including furniture, from defaulters if they fail to pay their dues,” she added.
The last option would be to recover the dues by auctioning the property. Prior to 2016, the BMC used to levy penalty on defaulters.
The civic body on Wednesday launched an awareness drive in this regard at H-East ward. As drummers made rounds of the commercial areas of the ward in a vehicle, civic officials made local residents aware of the rules. Next, BMC will send the drummers to play in residential areas. The drive is set to be taken up across all 24 wards in the next one week.
The BMC’s assessment and collection department issues property tax bills for the financial year every May. While one can pay 50 per cent of the tax in August, the remaining has to be paid in December. Till now, BMC used to send notices to defaulters. According to rules, one has to pay the tax within 90 days of receiving the notice.
Officials said BMC assesses around four lakh properties every year. In 2019-20, property tax worth Rs 1,387 crore has been collected till November 30, 2019 – nearly one fourth of the Rs 5016.19-crore target.
The dip in collection has also been blamed on confusion over the state’s policy to waive property tax for homes measuring less than 500 sq ft. The civic body had not issued any residential property tax bill last year, as it is yet to calibrate its software and other systems to exclude units under 500 sq ft.
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