Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya’s decision to go by the book and triple the property tax valuation rate threatens to hit house-owners where it hurts. From 2.5 per cent of the annual valuation of the property, as applied till now, it has jumped to 7.5 per cent.
What this means is that those who have bought property in the city proper, Behala or Jadavpur after June 30, 2006, must cough up quarterly property tax of Rs 7,750 per 1,000 sq ft, against Rs 2,250 paid from January 18, 1999, to June this year.
“I have neither increased property tax nor imposed any extra levy. I have only directed my assessment department to calculate property tax by following Section 174(1) of the CMC Act, 1980, in case of newly-purchased plots, buildings and flats,” said the mayor.
The decision of the civic chief to turn the pages of the law book signals a deviation from the practice of assessing annual valuation of property tax at 2.5 per cent of the value shown in the title deed.
“True, it will add to the burden on the consumer in certain areas, but at the same time, it could help rationalise the tax structure. For instance, where rentals are high and tax collected much higher, this method of calculation will help reduce the load,” felt Pradip Chopra, governing body member of Credai, the nodal body of developers.
The mayor, however, has come under fire even from his own party’s councillors, who want him to revert to the existing method till the introduction of an area-wise property tax system.
Former mayor Subrata Mukherjee, leader of the Opposition Javed Ahmed Khan, Trinamul leaders Sovan Chatterjee and Rajib Deb and Congress leader Pradip Ghosh have threatened to launch an agitation after the Pujas, demanding a rollback.
“Calcutta already has the highest property tax in the country,” claimed Mukherjee.
“A man who can purchase a flat or a piece of land by shelling out Rs 10 lakh can easily cough up Rs 28,000 or 30,000 as annual property tax,” countered the mayor, dismissing talk of ex-municipal commissioner Asim Barman fixing property tax valuation rate at 2.5 per cent, as “a proposal”.