Property tax rates for commercial properties in the twin cities are likely to double from the financial year 2011-2012 beginning April 1. The government withdrawing the 50 per cent hike cap on the tax last week has come as a shot in the arm for the GHMC.

To mop up 40 cr.

Preliminary estimates project that it could mop up a cool Rs. 40 crore as a result next year. Busy as they are in trying to collect as much property tax as possible for the current year with just 20 days to go through a special drive, finance officials are also planning for issuing special notices from next month onwards.

These notices will be issued to the near 1.80 lakh commercial properties indicating the extent of tax levied for the year. A fortnight time will be given to the businessmen to respond to the notices. Officials will then have another fortnight to take a final decision on tax rates. Of course, ‘rationalisation' is the word used for the rise as the Municipal Corporation has never raised the property tax every five years as it was supposed to do so as per the Act.

Three years ago, the government had permitted a hike for commercial properties that too with a 50 per cent cap. The hike after a decade or so but residential properties were not touched although there has not been any fresh initiative after the self-assessment scheme. Before the fresh tax was levied in 2007 on commercial properties, extensive survey was done and the entire city was divided into 115 zones and 344 sub-divisions. Tax rates were decided based on the kind of construction, business activity, area from where it was being operated, etc. This way, GHMC had ensured there was a differential tax rate operational for varied areas – core city, suburbs and slums. However, following government directions, it could levy the fresh rate in full only for constructions which came up after 2007 and all the other commercial buildings (more than a lakh) paid tax based on details given during the self-assessment scheme. These two categories can now be brought on a same plane with the latest notification.