With the current financial year ending in less than a fortnight, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is racing against time to meet its annual target of property tax collection – the civic body’s primary source of revenue.

The BMC collected Rs 3,800 crore in property tax as of Thursday. In 2020-21, the civic body had estimated to collect Rs 6,768 crore in property tax, but the same was revised to Rs 4,500 crore. However, until December 2020, the civic body’s revenue receipts from property tax were at a measly Rs 738 crore.

Since March 8 was the deadline to pay property tax for commercial establishments, the BMC initiated a city-wide crackdown against defaulters. The civic body has prepared a list of the top 100 defaulters in each of the 24 wards. The deadline for residential properties is March-end.

In addition to attaching 11,661 properties, BMC will also begin auctioning properties. Forty-two properties worth Rs 210 crore will be auctioned.

However, the civic body has yet not begun the auctioning procedure. Residents may pay their dues and free the property before the civic body auctions it.

The assessment and collection department of the BMC issues property tax bills for a particular financial year every May. The deadline for paying 50 per cent of the tax is in August, and the remaining 50 per cent is to be paid in December. However, due to the pandemic, property tax bills for 2020-21 were issued in December last year.

Residents have three months from the time of receiving the bills to pay the tax. Penalty of two per cent is levied in case bills are not paid. In case of non-payment of bills after 90 days, BMC sends repeated reminders and notices to the defaulters. For the current financial year, the BMC is sending reminders to defaulters through SMS and voice messages.

As per its 2016 policy, the BMC also seals lifts, entrances and water connections of buildings to restrict their usage and recover property tax. In the current financial year, BMC has disconnected the water supply of 479 properties.

Before this policy, the civic body only levied penalty charges on defaulters. If the defaulters still don’t settle their dues, the civic body attaches and auctions the property.

In the current financial year, disconnection of the properties’ water supply, their attachments and auctions were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The citywide crackdown on property tax defaulters prompted a Worli-based company named National Cotton Products to clear tax arrears of over Rs 3.5 crore that was pending for 28 years. On Monday, in a single day, BMC collected Rs 415 crore in property tax.

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