Taxing times ahead for honest taxpayers

The BBMP needs to take a look at the poor condition of the city before it thinks of burdening us again, grumble Bengalureans.

The BBMP, which has failed to fully collect property tax in the city, is now considering increasing it , much to the dismay of honest taxpayers, who feel they are being penalised for the omissions of others. They believe it is the BBMP and a host of other civic bodies that must set their house in order and provide basic civic amenities just as efficient garbage disposal, an end to traffic gridlock, smarter traffic management and pothole free roads, easier connectivity on better public transport and cheaper power before burdening them with higher taxes.

On the one hand it struggles to provide civic amenities and on the other , a perennially cash-strapped BBMP has set its sights on increasing property tax both for residential and commercial buildings in the city.

While the tax could go up by 25 per cent for residential buildings, it could rise by 30 per cent for the commercial buildings if the BBMP has its way. The proposal has led to outrage among the honest tax paying people of the city, who feel they are being burdened even more just because the BBMP is being lax in collecting tax from others. “The BBMP needs to take a look at the poor condition of the city before it thinks of burdening us again,” grumble Bengalureans.

Says a resident of Srirampuram, “We are living in a building of 15 X 60 feet dimension. We took a housing loan to build the first two floors, which will take another 15 years to repay. We are also paying property tax of '4,500 every year for the building.. Like others we too could have skipped paying, it, but despite our other commitments we ensure that it is paid on time. However, we are not what is really happening to the money . Are the BBMP officials really utilising it? I don’t think so.”

In his view, if the BBMP had been utilising the funds properly there would be no potholes on city roads today. “But instead every other road in the city has a blackspot and not even one street is free from stray dogs. The hard earned money which we pay as tax isn’t put to proper use and the move to hike property tax is like rubbing salt into the wounds,” he protests.

The Srirampuram resident claims thousands of buildings in the area don’t pay property tax at all. “ How can we be motivated to pay our taxes when the BBMP does not utilise the money for the welfare of people?” he asks.

A top BBMP official however argues it is empowered to hike property taxes every three years under the Karnataka Municipality Act. “It is left to the standing committee to suggest the range of hike starting from 15 per cent to 30 per cent. The last time the tax was hiked was in 2016 after a long gap of seven years. So we thought it would be appropriate to increase it now as the three year period ends by this financial year- end,” he explains.

But he also notes that the state government has hinted at putting the proposal on hold with the Lok Sabha elections due in the state soon.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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