The residents alleged that the civic body did not consult or inform them about zonal reclassification that was carried out in 2016.

Protestors outside the BBMP Head Office
news Protests Saturday, September 04, 2021 - 19:02

The Bengaluru Navanirmana Party on Saturday, September 4 protested outside the head office of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for serving notices and levying fines on property owners, stating that they have underpaid their property tax. The notices are based on a zonal reclassification that was carried out by the civic body in 2016. The residents alleged that the civic body did not consult or inform them about the move. While a group of people gathered outside the BBMP’s office, carrying placards and raising slogans, others took part virtually in the demonstration, to demand immediate resolution of the issue.

The BBMP has been issuing notices to property owners, alleging that they have been underpaying their property taxes. Properties across Bengaluru are divided into six zones based on guidance value, which are reclassified once in three years. The last exercise was carried out in 2016 and there hasn't been another one since, due to the pandemic. Officials of the BBMP say that since the tax zones were reclassified in 2016, several residents have piled up arrears and interest and therefore, were also fined. As residents alleged lapses in the BBMP’s system, stating that it failed to inform people about the changes, adding that the amount ran into thousands and even a few lakh sometimes, the BBMP told the state government on August 23 that it will waive the penalty off but not the arrears, The Hindu reported.

On Saturday, the protesters held up placards that read ‘Stop Tax Extortion’ and demanded that the BBMP withdraw all the notices issued. They said that the zonal reclassification should be implemented from the next financial year. The protesters also demanded that the civic body issue notices in cases of underpayment — intentional or not — in the same year, so that citizens can rectify their mistakes.

“I was served a notice in February and was directed to pay the property tax by July. I had to visit the BBMP office multiple times. My neighbour and I pay the same amount of property tax, yet only I received a notice,” said Shreesh Babu, an angry resident. He alleged that the BBMP reclassified areas as per their whim and are now levying penalties on the public.  

Speaking to TNM, Srikanth Narasimhan, general secretary of the BNP, said that several people are still receiving notices and facing harassment from officials. He requested Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to intervene in the matter. “We were requesting a meeting with BBMP chief Gaurav Gupta, Special Commissioner for Revenue and other authorities. However, they were not present at the office. Instead, we met the Deputy Commissioner of Administration, Lingamurthy G, and our demands were placed in front of him,” Srikanth added.

When contacted, BBMP chief Gaurav Gupta said that a public notification was issued in 2016, which might have been missed by residents. He further stated that the civic body was assessing property tax payments when they found the errors, and that the recent notices were based on the same. “Property tax, like income tax, is self-assessment tax and the authorities can later tally and say whether the amount paid is correct or not. While doing the exercise, the BBMP found that many had erred and hence the notices were issued. Considering the times, we have requested the government to look into the matter and consider if penalties can be waived off on compassionate grounds,” he said. Responding to the BNP’s protest, the civic body chief said that he will look into their demands and take appropriate action.

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