Property owners demand resolution on ‘unfair tax notices’

While some citizens were planting paddy saplings to register their protest against the poor condition of Anjanapura Double Road, in the heart of the city, around 50 citizens gathered at the BBMP head office to protest against the issue of ‘unfair property tax notices’ to several property owners.

The protest, organised by the Bengaluru Navanirmana Party (BNP), saw property owners hold placards, while 500 others joined them virtually.

The BBMP has issued over 78,500 notices to property owners for failing to update their tax zone classification while paying property tax since 2016-17. The notices, many of which are dated February 2021, continue to be served to citizens. Through the notices, the BBMP has asked the citizens to not just pay the arrears, but also 200% penalty on the arrears, besides a 2% a month interest for the past five years. With this, the civic body hoped to collect ₹360 crore, including ₹120 crore in arrears and ₹240 crore in penalty and interest.

However, after criticism from the public for not informing them about the zonal reclassification in 2016-17 and not updating their online tax payment software to reflect the changes, the civic body sent a proposal to the State government to forgo the penalty. However, this will mean that citizens will have to pay the arrears and interest.

“The issue is still not resolved. The BBMP is issuing notices, which is causing a lot of anxiety among citizens as the interest and penalty keeps adding up with every passing day. Some property owners have ended up paying the amount under duress,” claimed Srikanth Narasimhan, BNP’s founder and general secretary.

Rahul Tandon, a resident of Shanthinagar, did just that. “After receiving the notice in March, I waited till June for some resolution. However, when the interest began to mount, I made the payment. Property owners, who have diligently been paying our taxes, are being penalised for no fault,” he charged.

Kiran Srinivas, a resident of Rajajinagar, said that the BBMP updated the property tax software to reflect the changed zonal classification four years after it was actually changed. “The BBMP has our contact details and could have informed us. There is a glaring gap in communication and hapless citizens are being made to pay for it,” he argued.

BNP has submitted an online petition with around 5,000 signatures to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. Senior civic officials told The Hindu that the CM is likely to take a decision on the proposal to waive penalty next week.

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