Mumbai civic body yet to receive ₹20-K crore property tax; top 50 defaulters owe ₹1,600cr
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is yet to receive property tax worth Rs20,000 crore from defaulters, of which the top 50 defaulters owe the civic body Rs1,650 crore.
After the octroi was repealed, property tax became the biggest source of income for BMC, followed by the premium paid by real estate developers.
The highest defaulter is a commercial building at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), which is yet to pay Rs164.92 crore. In the ongoing financial year, BMC has been able to collect only a little over Rs1,000 crore against its Rs6,500-crore target, owing to Covid-19 lockdown.
Of the top 50 defaulters, 15 others are major real estate developers, while 20 are state and central government agencies, including the lessee appointed by the Maharashtra government. Government agencies such as the Maharashtra Housing Area and Development Authority (Mhada), owes over Rs54 crore to BMC. The chief officer of Mhada’s Mumbai board, Yogesh Mhase, had not replied to queries on the matter till the time of going to press.
Mumbai International Airport has an outstanding of Rs25.59 crore. An official from the airport said, “The amount is disputed for genuine reasons, and based on the final outcome of the reconciliation, we will do the needful.”
BMC has maintained that it has sent repeated reminders, and also plans to conduct an auction, in case property tax defaulters fail to pay their dues.
Joint municipal commissioner Sunil Dhamne said, “We are undertaking the process of property tax collection, and this year we have collected over Rs1,000 crore. Due action will be taken against defaulters who fail to respond despite repeated reminders. However, for cases where the outstanding is disputed or pending in the court, we will wait for the final outcome.”
In January 2020, two months before the Covid-19 outbreak, BMC had launched a drive for collection of property tax, in which properties of 3,564 defaulters were attached, while 262 defaulters lost their water connection.
Slamming the civic body, Congress corporator and leader of Opposition in BMC Ravi Raja said, “Real estate developers form the majority of defaulters who have been recently given incentives in premiums. Why should they have any outstanding after taking such benefits from BMC? The corporation must take strict action against private players. In the case of government agencies, I am hoping that the tax money will come to BMC.”
Meanwhile, from last week, BMC started sending property tax bills to properties smaller than 500 square feet (sq ft). This was done four years after the Shiv Sena, which heads BMC, promised voters in 2017 corporation polls that it would waive property tax of structures up to 500 sq ft on coming to power. BMC said it is sending bills with a partial waiver, citing only general tax components out of the total seven components have been waived off by the state government. Interestingly, the Sena heads the alliance government in the state too.