The hike in property tax which was approved by the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) will be questioned in court on legal and technical grounds as the tax escalation has been described as illegal and in violation of the law.
This was stated in a public meeting convened by the Mysuru city and district Congress here on Sunday and attended by a large number of citizens, including MCC councillors.
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson M. Lakshman said MCC was coerced by the State government to escalate property tax by 15% with a rider that failure to do so would result in suspension of all grants due to the local body.
This was also corroborated by former Mayor Ayub Khan who said that the MCC received such a circular and the cast-strapped corporation was forced to comply with the directives lest it would stand to lose funds to provide even basic amenities and services.
Mr. Lakshman said this was nothing short of “extortion and daylight robbery” and comes at a time when people are struggling to survive in the times of pandemic. Hence, a multi-pronged struggle would be launched which entails writing to officials concerned highlighting both legal and technical flaws in the present hike, which was described as “unscientific”.
In case the government does not respond and resolve the issue within a fortnight, the Congress would file a Public Interest Litigation plea in the High Court to bring a stay and eventually get the hike quashed, he added.
The technical flaws related to the quantum of hike and though the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1976 has mandated 15% hike in property tax once in three years, what is being enforced is in excess of 200% in many cases, according to citizens participating in the meeting.
Some of the tax paying citizens who spoke pointed out that the hike has been two to three fold and was in violation of the law. A tax paying citizen claimed that the property tax was calculated as ₹9,600 last year and it was enhanced to ₹25,600 this year.
Mr. Khan said instead of the 2007 guidance value of the property for computing the property tax, the MCC was using the 2018 guidance value resulting in a steep hike.
Mr. Lakshman said property tax under self-assessment scheme (SAS) entailed the tax payer to make the entries and compute the tax. But in the online system rolled out by the MCC, the property data has already been fed into the system and the software automatically calculates the amount based on the data fed into it. In the event of an anomaly, there was no scope for correction and hence, this was in violation of the very basis of the SAS, he added.
It was also pointed out that though there were nearly 1.83 lakh to nearly 2 lakh registered properties within the MCC limits, only 50% of them were regularly paying the taxes while no property tax was levied on buildings housing government offices.