Going full-throttle against property tax defaulters, the BMC on Sunday seized two cars (a BMW and a Brezza), disconnected water connections and blocked the sewer lines to recover tax arrears. Apart from this, the civic body recovered Rs 25.86 crore from Bharat Diamond Bourse and Rs 39 crore from Reliance Industries Ltd in property taxes.
Chandulal P. Lohna (developer M / s Jay Construction) had defaulted on property tax payments to the tune of Rs 38,80,705. A team of officials from the BMC’s tax department seized his BMW, following it up with a warning notice to the firm, asking it to pay up the arrears. “Later, Rs 19 lakh were deposited by the relatives of the defaulter and the vehicle was released,” said the BMC official.
In another case, the water connection of the Solitaire Corporate Park and the Vertex Building in Andheri were severed. “Apart from the water connection, we even blocked the sewer lines. As soon as the action was taken, the property holders paid 50 per cent of the outstanding amount, i.e. Rs. 9.60 crore and Rs. 31 lakh respectively,” the BMC official said.
Besides this, the water connection of the IMax theatre in M west ward (Govandi, Chembur) was disconnected, to recover property tax arrears of Rs 75 lakh. Unity Land Consultancy had Rs 1,10, 22, 240 in pending property tax dues and the civic body seized a Brezza car and also sealed their offices at their construction sites.
The property tax collection this year has jumped to Rs 3,650 crore as of March 14, 2021. The civic body had set a March 8 deadline for defaulters this year. Those who did not clear the arrears faced the action. The target for property tax collection this year has been set at Rs 5,200 crore, and the BMC administration is making continuous efforts to achieve this target.
The assessment and collection department of the BMC issues property tax bills for a particular financial year in May. The deadline for paying 50 per cent of the tax is in August every year, while the remaining 50 per cent is to be paid in December. However, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, property tax bills for 2020-21 were issued only in December 2020, delaying the process.
According to the officials from the assessment and collection department, the defaulters, mostly commercial establishments, owed the civic body Rs. 19,000 crore. This year, the BMC has attached 3,424 properties of various kinds, including open land, commercial and residential properties and these will be auctioned based on their capital value.
Those who do not pay property tax on time are charged a penalty of two per cent on the balance at a recurring rate every month. Even after that, in case of non-payment of property tax, the civic body disconnects water and electricity supply to the property. If the defaulters still don’t settle their dues, the civic body attaches and auctions the property. Residents can pay their dues and free the property until the civic body auctions it.
Since 2013, the civic body has been unable to meet its target of income that it hopes to collect from all its sources, including property tax. At the most, the civic has managed to collect around 60 per cent of its targeted income every fiscal year. During fiscal 2018-’19, while the property tax target was Rs 5,206 crore, the BMC managed to collect Rs 5,082 crore. In 2019-20, the BMC’s target was Rs 5,600 crore, but only Rs 4,100 crore was collected.