BENGALURU: Fed up with BBMP’s tardy tax collection and its latest move to hike property tax in the city, volunteers of the Citizens’ Action Forum (CAF) have decided to do some investigation of their own to see how much tax is actually going into the civic agency's kitty.
At the end of the exercise they hope to give the civic agency, which appears clueless at the moment, an idea about much revenue it has lost over the last several years by allowing property owners to merrily evade paying tax.
A team of CAF volunteers has begun work from Monday in three of the city's 198 wards, Radhakrishna Temple, Srinagar and Nagarabhavi.
Equipped with ward maps and a list of properties, the volunteers are out to assess if owners are paying tax for commercial establishments or evading it by claiming to own residential properties.
They have the backing of BBMP commissioner, G. Kumar Naik, Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) Venkatachalapathy and joint commissioner (Welfare) Rashmi Mahesh, who have issued them temporary identity cards.
“The cards will come in handy as otherwise people will not share information with us. We are doing a pilot survey in Radhakrishna Temple and Srinagara wards. We will provide the BBMP information on residential and commercial properties in all the streets of the wards and also give it a report on the potential of property tax collection in these areas . Later, the BBMP can verify the information,” explains Mr D S. Rajshekar, president of CAF.
Interestingly the CAF has developed a unique map and software to track all the properties. The software will help track commercial and recently converted properties to commercial.
“We are doing this because the revision in property tax will impact the honest property taxpayer who will be forced to pay more while those evading tax will continue to enjoy all the amenities without paying anything. This is no logic,” he says, arguing that the property tax does not have to go up to improve the BBMP’s revenue.
“The revision will fetch it only Rs 600 crore. All it needs to do is increase its property tax coverage. Currently only 80 per cent of the property tax is being collected and newly added properties have not been brought under the tax net. Also, commercial rates are not being collected for properties which have been converted to commercial from residential,” the civic activist rues.