MVA holds protest against PMC’s retrospective property tax collection
The Bhavya Jan Aakrosh, a mega protest, was attended by the MVA leaders along with a large number of residents. The protestors holding placards raised slogans against the implementation of the tax which they termed unjustified
PANVEL: The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) on Monday organised a protest against retrospective property tax collection by the Panvel Municipal Corporation (PMC).
The Bhavya Jan Aakrosh, a mega protest, was attended by the MVA leaders along with a large number of residents. The protestors holding placards raised slogans against the implementation of the tax which they termed unjustified.
A delegation of the MVA leaders met municipal commissioner Ganesh Deshmukh to present their demands.
Speaking on the demands, Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader and former MLC Balaram Patil said, “The PMC has no right to levy property tax on residents for at least 5 years after it was formed on October 1, 2016. It hardly rendered any service initially and the residents had to pay service charges to the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) as well, leading to double taxation.”
“We also want that all houses of up to 500 square feet area should be exempted from property tax,” he added.
Pritam Mhatre, former opposition leader, said “Following opposition to the property tax and our demand for reduction by 70%, the PMC had reduced it by 30%. However, they then included tax on open spaces in societies which negated the reduction and the residents are again paying 100%.”
He said, “Even the neighbouring Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation levied tax on parking and open space after 25 years of its formation, why is PMC in such a hurry then?”
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader, Baban Patil, said, “This is a people’s issue and we will not back out.”
Responding to the demands, the municipal commissioner said, “I will be discussing the issues raised by the delegation with the chief minister for further course of action.”
The tax background
Over two years after its formation on October 1, 2016, it was on January 17, 2019 that the PMC general body cleared a proposal to levy property tax in its jurisdiction.
Earlier, the residents paid taxes to their respective gram panchayats and service tax to the CIDCO.
To make payment of property tax easier for the residents, the PMC in February 2022, under its e-governance initiative, developed an application ‘PMC TAX App’ for the payments. It has also been offering various incentives including 5% incentive for early payments and an additional 2% incentive if the tax is paid online.
The property tax dues are being billed with retrospective effect from October 2016 which the residents are opposing. Residents in CIDCO nodes also paid service tax to the city planning agency till November 2022 and hence are upset at double taxation.
The issue started raging in 2021 as the PMC got serious about implementation of tax collection and held suggestion and objection rounds.
In September 2021, an NGO Kharghar Forum filed a writ petition in the High Court claiming wrong taxation by the civic body. It claimed that the PMC was levying tax despite not providing services to the residents as CIDCO was providing them.
Tax system as per law: PMC
Dismissing the allegations of double taxation, a PMC official said, “The PMC has as per the authority given to it under the constitution to raise revenue levied property tax as per the specified provisions.”
The official said, “There are three zones in the PMC jurisdiction consisting of the old municipal council area, the gram panchayat areas and the nodes that were under the CIDCO jurisdiction. The rates for each zone have been decided after a detailed survey and study.”
“In case, there are doubts raised on any issue, we review them. This is a transition period and hence changes are made in the system. However, there is no doubt in our minds on the rules and regulations framed, the system in place and the rates decided by successive municipal commissioners as per law,” the official said, adding that bills were issued after hearings were completed in all the regions. The residents are increasingly coming forward to pay and are also taking advantage of the incentives on offer.