An ill-prepared civic body that pushed multiple changes in payment of property tax this fiscal has essentially botched up the process. The BBMP made all property tax payments online from this year, but citizens are left frustrated at being unable to clear their dues.
The complaints pertain to non-working links, error messages midway through the process, inability to select tax zones and produce challans.
Discarding the software developed by a private firm, BBMP got National Informatics Centre (NIC) to develop a new one this year. “But the new software was ready only by March second week, which did not give enough time to check for errors or stress tests,” acknowledges G. Kumar Naik, Commissioner, BBMP.
The stabilisation process may take another week, said a senior BBMP official. Sources said that BBMP may extend the April 30 deadline for availing a rebate by another month.
Confusion The change in tax zones as part of the property tax revision this year has compounded the problem.
As you key in your base application number, or PID, your property details along with the old tax zone is automatically filled in the tax form. However, you need to manually select the new tax zone the property now lies in based on the guidance value of 2015. Though BBMP has put up ward-wise PDF files on the same web page, classifying each street into new tax zones, any error on the citizen’s part hampers the process.
The BBMP couldn't automate the selection due to the lack of compatibility of various datasets, senior officials said.
V. Ravichandar, who worked with BBMP in the Self Assessment Scheme for property tax, said that the backend database is in pathetic condition.
Lack of PIDs may jeopardise collections Thousands of properties, especially those in the newly added outer zones, are yet to get their property IDs. Property owners were paying tax using their khata numbers till last year. But the new software only allows you to log in through PID or the 2008 SAS application number, not through khata number.
D.S. Rajashekhar, president of Citizen Action Forum, said there is no explanation on how these property owners are to pay their taxes.
Properties without PIDs or the 2008 application number will have to wait for the BBMP to host the PID data to pay their taxes.
Rebate for servicemen not factored in Both serving and ex-servicemen are eligible for a 50 per cent rebate as per the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976. However, this has not been factored in the new software.
Group Captain M Ganesan (retd.), an octogenarian, made the trip to the BBMP help centre and got a challan only to realise the rebate had not been factored in.
“We have flagged the issue to the head office. It is likely to be corrected by April 10,” a revenue official said.
Forced to visit BBMP centres Techie D.S. Sridhar, a resident of Vidyaranyapura, who tried paying property tax on Wednesday, had a harrowing time. “The software focuses on government processes rather than being user friendly. The BBMP has data of our properties. Why should we furnish them again?”
On Wednesday, he visited the BBMP help centre, stood in queue and sought the operator's help. However, even the operator encountered a software hitch. Eventually, Mr. Sridhar could not pay his taxes.
Thousands of property owners, who have been dutifully trying to pay their taxes since April 1, have similar tales to narrate.
Ravi S., a resident of Domlur, was among those who were able to pay their taxes. But, he had to visit two help centres. “The computer operator at J.B. Nagar filled my form online and generated a challan,” he said. However, the entire process took him half a day.
A revenue inspector told The Hindu, “We have been at the receiving end of citizens’ ire. We have been flagging bugs and issues in the software to the head office.”
Despite all this, there is a silver lining. “Tax collection has picked up, crossing over Rs. 2 crore on Wednesday,” said Mr. Naik.