Belying tall claims of acting tough with chronic property tax defaulters, the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) has apparently admitted defeat by planning to roll out yet another amnesty scheme for the second consecutive year.
According to activists, such schemes not only trigger huge revenue losses to the civic exchequer which is already reeling under a financial crunch, but it’s also a gross injustice to the regular taxpayers.
The MBMC has managed to mop-up Rs. 118 crore in the current fiscal, so far. However, the challenge is to recover another Rs.104 crore in the remaining two months to meet the demand. The scheme envisages 75 percent waiver on penalty and interest levied on property tax defaulters, subject to one-time payment between 1, February to 15, March.
“As usual the MBMC is pampering defaulters who have brazenly ignored tax bills and notices. If the trend of amnesty continues then honest taxpayers are bound to feel cheated and the consequences could be disastrous. Like mounted arrears related to open land tax and hoarding fees, the scheme is tailor-made for rich and influential who are the actual beneficiaries. The MBMC should instead waive off taxes of needy families who have lost their kin due to Covid.” said former corporator- Rohit Suvarna. “There are people who really need amnesty. However, the civic administration should also create a mechanism to ensure that the scheme is not misused. We have already sought incentives for regular taxpayers.” said deputy mayor- Hasmukh Gehlot.
A large number of wilful defaulters-especially commercial property owners owing lakhs of rupees manage to elude action by bribing lower rung employees. Offering amnesty has become a preferred tool for the civic administration for easy recoveries while irresponsibly draining a major chunk of anticipated revenue from its demand registers. Defaulters are subjected to pay 2 percent of the tax amount per month.