With the BMC’s online portal for paying property tax shut for more than a month, residents across the city are now left in a lurch with the civic body not accepting bill payment either online or through Citizen Facility Centres (CFCs) in local wards.
The problem, people say, started since mid-April. Sion resident Shyam Addeppa said that when he had tried to pay his property tax bill online, the server continued to remain down, and when he went to make the payment at the F/North Ward office, officials at the CFC counter informed him that the system was not working there either.
“I used to pay my property tax bills online via BMC’s portal. But since last one month, property tax system is down. Following this, on Thursday I went to the ward office, but there the official at the CFC counter told me that they are not able to accept bills since last one month across the city. When I asked about problem, he also seemed unaware and said that it is due to some technical reason and that they don’t know by when it will be rectified,” Addeppa said.
He added, “Atleast the BMC should inform us about the problem. I am not able to pay my bills and now in next cycle they will send us a new bill with delay charges and interest. Why should we pay the delay charges?”
A message about non-working of property tax system has been put up on the BMC website, stating that from April 18, 2019, till the next update, property tax system will “remain shut”.
When asked about the problem, a senior official from Property Tax Department, without wishing to be named, said: “The problem with the system is because of mainly two reasons. One is the newly introduced exemption to 500 square metre houses. The other is the recent order of Bombay High Court, which struck down some sections of MMC Act and directed us to give fresh hearing to many property owners. We have to make changes in the system accordingly, especially in case of exemption to 500 square feet flats.”
The official added, “There are about 14 lakhs such properties with 500 square feet area. We are awaiting for state government’s new Ordinance to get some clarity on the exemption.”
In March, following its poll promise, the BJP-Sena government in the state announced that property tax for flats up to 500 square feet will be exempted. It also offered 60 per cent rebate on flats up to 700 square feet.
Opposition parties, however, had alleged that the full exemption was farce, as residents will have to pay tax components even after deduction of property tax.
Property tax is BMC’s biggest source of income after octroi was abolished and GST was implemented. In 2018-19 civic body has collected about Rs 5,000 crore from property tax.