Come Saturday, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC)'s much awaited property tax assessment is all set to get rolling.
Shifting from the age-old Inspector Raj, the new unit-area based property tax regime for taxpayers will simplify matter to a great extent. Under the new Unit Area Assessment (UAA) system, one can calculate his own quarterly tax liability based on parameters already made public by the KMC.
The UAA will not only streamline KMC's Assessment department by making the whole process of calculating property tax transparent butit would also bring an end to rampant corruption associated with property tax evaluation.
Under the new UAA system, a property owner can assess his/her own property online and determine the amount of property tax payable using the instructions given in the KMC website—https://www.kmcgov.in. Or else a property owner can visit the assessment-collection departmentof the KMC borough offices or e-governance centres of the civic body located across the city.
It may be mentioned that Mayor Sovan Chatterjee had earlier announced that the new system would be introduced from 2017-18 financial year.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) had requested KMC to streamline its revenue collection system way back in 2000 when Subrata Mukherjee was the Mayor and it was then that the entire concept of Unit Area Assessment came up.
A committee was set up with the then Municipal Commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay as its chairman to study the new method of assessing property tax. Civic officials visited several cities where UAA was being implemented. But the Left Front did not implement UAA fearing that property owners would not accept it.
The KMC held a series of workshops to make both property owners and councilors and MLAs aware of the new method. Meetings were held with house owners and their views have been incorporated.
The city has been divided into seven zones depending on infrastructure, location etc. Property owners will be able to calculate the property tax and deposit the money. The General Revaluation (GR) will be done once in five years and if it is found that there is no addition or alteration or change in tenancy in case of tenanted premises, there will be 10 percent rise in KMC's tax structure. The property tax of shops in malls will be calculated on the basis of the area it occupies. Also, the tax of marriage and ceremony houses will be calculated on the basis of the area and the location where they are situated.
At present the property tax is calculated on the basis of notional value and because of this there is rampant corruption in the revenue department. The property tax goes up where the owners refuse to pay bribe. In case of marriage houses, the owners give two receipts to the user. One receipt which is shown to the KMC, the amount at which the property has been let out is much less that the actual amount at which the property is let out to hold the function. The UAA is likely to increase KMC's revenue and there will be less burden on the property owners as well.