Bengaluru Navanirmana Party protests in front of BBMP office, online against ‘unfair’ tax notices

The BBMP, in the last few months, has issued over 78,500 tax notices to property owners for not updating their tax zones in 2016-17.

The Bengaluru Navanirmana Party (BNP), a political outfit created in 2019 with the exclusive agenda of contesting civic polls in Bengaluru and promoting “good grassroots governance”, staged an offline and online protest Saturday against the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for issuing unfair tax notices to the citizens in Bengaluru.

Around 50 BNP workers staged a protest at the BBMP head office, while 500 people took part in a virtual demonstration demanding immediate resolution of the issue.

The BBMP, in the last few months, has issued over 78,500 tax notices to property owners for not updating their tax zones in 2016-17. The notices state that the tax zone reclassification was done in 2016-17. It asked the citizens to pay penalties and interest for not updating the records before paying property taxes under the Self-Assessment Scheme (SAS).

If the arrears are paid, BBMP is expected to earn Rs 120 crore revenue and an additional Rs 240-crore in penalties and interests.

“We have resorted to this demonstration to request the BBMP and the Karnataka government for timely intervention in resolving the issue. We have also petitioned the Chief Minister for his intervention. While there have been assurances that the issue will be resolved, nothing concrete has happened. BBMP officers are still issuing notices to property owners in Bengaluru. This is causing a lot of angst and anxiety among citizens as the interest and penalty amounts keep adding up every day. Some property owners are also ending up paying the amount under duress from the local BBMP offices,” said BNP general secretary Srikanth Narasimhan.

“BBMP periodically reclassifies zones of various properties based on the increase in guidance value of properties across the city. One such exercise was done in 2016 when the zones of lakhs of houses were reclassified into higher categories. This was supposedly notified at that time, however, a vast majority of the citizens (around 95%) are unaware of this reclassification,” he said.

“This resulted in citizens underpaying their property taxes unknowingly. It is almost like BBMP undertook this exercise in stealth mode, with no advertisements, no publicity, no circulars or emails or messages sent to property owners, no alerts at the time of making the payments and no notices issued in the same year when citizens were purportedly underpaying.” said Lalithamba B V, BNP’s head of campaigns.

“BBMP suddenly woke up this year and started issuing notices to thousands of property owners with a claim of tax evasion and slapped penalties and interest running into thousands and lakhs of rupees. The funny part is that it is very likely that the entire city is in default and only a small portion of the citizens (about 80,000 houses) have received these notices. Understandably, citizens have been caught unawares and are in shock,” said Rishi Raghavan of BNP’s youth wing.

BNP has submitted a full explanation of the issue to the state government and Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai along with an online petition with around 5,000 signatures.

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