With exorbitant hike in property tax hitting assessees hard, complaints abound. Residents are particularly galled over the hike going up even up to four-fold from what they have been paying hitherto.
In some cases, the hike has been multi-fold and in some other cases mistakes have crept in. The mistakes pertain to wrong mention of use (commercial instead of residential), tenant/self-occupied and measurement of the plinth area.
The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation has begun issuing special notices. So far 70,000 notices have been issued. A total of 3.2 lakh notices are to be issued by the month-end. Once the notices are issued, citizens have 15 days to file an appeal from the date the notice is served.
Speaking on the issue on Monday, Municipal Commissioner V.N. Vishnu pointed out the gazette notification was issued on the basis of Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act. There were two factors, “error of logic” and “error of facts.” There was no error of logic and the tax was worked out on the basis of plinth area and average rental values and “One can't tinker with it.”
The Commissioner told reporters that the error of facts could be addressed if residents file appeals for revision listing out the mistakes. Once the appeals are disposed of, demand notices will be issued after which the payments should be made.
The corporation general body meeting also passed a resolution urging the government to cap the property tax hike at 50 per cent of the prevailing tax and to 40 per cent in case of non-residential buildings above 25 years of age. However, the Municipal Administration Department turned it down stating there was no provision for increasing by percentages and the hike should be effected as per Section 697 E.
Officials say the hike appeared to be abnormal since the property tax had been last revised 17 years ago. The rental values worked out were based on 2005-06 rates. Before the gazette notification was made in 2007, objections had been called for, they recalled.
The details relating to property tax were entered into the GVMC database in 2000. Since then all assessments are directly entered into the records by computer. However, errors could have crept in while entering the data and could have happened while dealing with the peripheral areas. Errors relating to use, extent make all the difference.