Considering the high rate of property taxes and the financial burden Mumbaikars are bearing amid the coronavirus pandemic, Congress corporator and leader of opposition in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Ravi Raja has demanded a waiver of property taxes for the months of March, April and May, for properties more than 500 sqft in area.
As per the MMC act amendment, the civic body adjusts the property tax rate every five years, increasing the percentage of taxes as per the capital value. The rates were last revised for the period of 2015-20.
During the lockdown brought on in the wake of the pandemic, official work was suspended in the BMC for three months. Consequently, the rates for the 2021-25 period are yet to be revised. No property tax bills have been issued since April.
"I have written to the municipal commissioner to waive taxes for March, April and May, the period when many literally had no income. There is already a waiver for those properties upto 500sqft in area. This time, we have requested an overall waiver" Raja told The Free Press Journal.
"The business sector has taken a hit and the economy is at a standstill; thus increasing the rates will be an added burden for many" said Raja, maintaining that it would be the first topic to be considered when the standing committee will resume meeting on the floor of the BMC.
Meanwhile, the civic body is also in the midst of a dire financial crisis as it is faced with a revenue shortfall of nearly Rs 4,000 crore amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Ahead of the civic budget this year, the civic body had announced it would collect 10 per cent of its outstanding Rs 15,000 crore in property tax to fill this gap. However, the lockdown put paid to this move. Neither could the corporation collect an additional Rs 400 crore in water and sewerage taxes.
"Property taxes are not the only source of revenue for the civic body, everyone is bearing the brunt of the pandemic and it's time the civic body stands by them as well," said Congress corporator Asif Zakaria, who has also written to the municipal corporation on the same grounds.
"There are outstanding taxes that are due as well, the civic body needs to understand the crisis and stand by the people on humanitarian grounds," said Zakaria.