Many property owners have said that they are getting highly inflated tax bills, leaving them shocked and confused about the levy.
Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) officials allege that the confusion is caused by the revised calculations, software updates and re-issuance bills following the Maharashtra government’s decision in April to restart the 40% tax discount for self-occupied residential properties in municipal limits. PMC’s property tax department officials said the civic body would now come up with a printed clarification on bills.
“We are addressing all issues raised by citizens. PMC will do the due correction in property tax bills. It will give clarity on how much amount should be paid by those who have self-occupied properties and those who are living as tenants,” Kunal Khemnar, additional commissioner of PMC, told TOI.
Citizens have pointed out that the process to get corrected bills is an unnecessary hassle.
Many residents of self-occupied properties said that they have been paying the tax regularly and have been living in the same property for decades. Despite this, the PMC has asked them to pay arrears in the recently sent bills. The bills do not provide any instructions or clarifications about the arrears that have been added.
“Property owners who have paid the tax diligently should not be made to fill PT3 forms and run to ward offices for other formalities,” a resident said. “It is the mistake of the civic administration and the common citizens should not suffer due to it.”
Ganesh Shinde, a resident of Erandwane said: “We could not understand why such inflated bills have been given to us. The civic administration should start some system or helpline for common citizens where they can get information about tax and arrears,” he said.
Paud Road resident Nitin Deshpande added that such high bills discouraged taxpayers. “We have been made to run from pillar to post to get the corrected bills even after paying tax diligently for years. It is frustrating. PMC should send corrected bills to the citizens without making them visit civic offices for the same,” he said.
“When we contacted civic officials at the local level and the PMC, they told us to pay the whole amount,” a resident of Sinhagad Road said, requesting anonymity. “How and why should diligent taxpayers pay unnecessary arrears? Is PMC trying to take undue advantage and charge advance tax from us? If that is the case, it is nothing short of an attempt to fool people for the sake of increasing PMC’s revenue.”
The civic administration began distributing property tax bills only from May 15, a delay of one-and-a-half months. The distribution was held up as PMC was awaiting the government notification on 40% tax discount for self-occupied properties, which was finally issued in April.
The government notification said the properties registered after 2019 and had not got the benefit of the 40% discount will be assessed and granted the concession with effect from April 1, 2023.
Though civic officials said the PMC will face a loss of Rs 401 crore of potential revenue after the discount is reintroduced, residents welcomed the decision.
The special 40% tax discount was started in 1970 for self-occupied properties within PMC limits. But it was not notified as an Act by the state government. So, in 2019, the discount was declared illegal and scrapped.
PMC in 2021 and 2022 sent SMSs to 60,000 property owners, asking them to pay 40% additional tax with retrospective effect from 2019. After opposition from public, the recovery was halted.