The Bidhannagar (Salt Lake) Municipality has collected an amount of Rs. 80,81,000 as property tax in the last one month. The municipality started the process of collecting from September-end this year and started sending bills to residents.
The municipality started sending bills to the residents with the intention of collecting property tax for the financial years 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. In addition the arrears that were payable by residents were also included in the bills. Till the last day of October a total number of 1,696 owner paid property tax and the municipality was able to collect the tax of Rs. 80,81,000.
According to Ashesh Mukherjee, chairman -in-council member of Bidhannagar Municipality, the municipality would be able to collect Rs. 9 crore as property tax, which would help the municipality to clear all kinds of pending bills. According to Mukherjee, the backlog amount is around 11 crore and so collection of the property tax would help the municipality to breathe a sigh of relief.
“The amount of property tax depends on the valuation. We have started collecting tax as per old valuation and as per old rate,” said Mukherjee. There are approximately 22,000 taxpayers, said Mukherjee.
“For example according to the old system and the old rate, a resident is paying tax at the rate of 3.5% if the valuation of a property ranges between 1 and 999. Similarly, the percentage is 5.2% if the valuation is between 1,000 and 5,000, 7% if it is between 5,000 and 10,000 and 10.5% if valuation is beyond 10,000,” said Mukherjee.
Notably, in 2005 during the second quarter, the then Left Front municipality board implemented the tax system as per assessment of valuation board carried out in 1998. Problem started since the property tax increased between 4% and 40% after the recommendations were implemented from second quarter of 2005. Residents started complaining about such hike in property tax. It was found that there were many anomalies in the system. For example a person who had a small house was paying three times the tax paid by another person who has a two-storied home.
The Bidhannagar (Salt Lake) Welfare Association objected to the evaluation process of 1998 and filed a case at Calcutta high court in 1999 and got judgment in their favour. Then the state government appealed at Calcutta high court, and this time, the government won. The association kept fighting, and challenged the new taxation system. They then went to Supreme Court where the court ruled that the method by which property tax was calculated was wrong.
Meanwhile, the municipality continued collecting tax from residents. Initially, they collected property tax for the first two years as per recommendations of West Bengal Valuation Board, said a member of the welfare association.
The Bidhannagar Municipality started violating norms. This time residents paid tax as per the new system while others did not. When the new government came to power, not wanting trouble they decided to collect tax as per old system till a new assessment was put in place.