'No OC? No property tax respite either'
Government resolution states flats measuring 500 sqft will be exempted from property tax only if owners have Occupation Certificates
A government resolution (GR) issued on March 10, which mentions that the state government's latest poll sop of exempting property tax for owners of flats measuring 500 sq.ft would only be applicable for those with Occupancy Certificates (OC), has become a serious bone of contention. Reason: More than 45 per cent of the flats in the city do not have OCs.
For the first time, Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray had raised the demand for tax exemption during the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections in 2017. At the time when the BJP-Sena alliance was being negotiated ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Thackeray's demand was a crucial factor in sealing the deal.
Referring to the tax exemption as an election gimmick, property lawyer Vinod Sampat said that the civic body would increase tax for the flats measuring more than 500 square feet to make up for the loss. "The BMC allows people to live in flats without acquiring OC, on humanitarian grounds. Flat owners pay penalties till the day they get the OC. So those who don't have an OC will have to continue paying taxes," he added.
Meanwhile, people living in Gaothans and Koliwadas won't be able to benefit from the rule either. Terming it unfair, Godfrey Pimenta of Watchdog Foundation and a resident of Marol gaothan, has written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Civic Chief Ajoy Mehta. "There is a financial disparity in the rule. Exemption of property tax should be based on economic criteria and not the size of flats," he said.
Based on the current ready reckoner rates issued by the state government, Pimenta claims that while flats measuring less than 500 square feet in South Mumbai costing between R2 crore — R4crore will be exempted from taxes, houses in gaothans that typically measure around 501 square feet and costs between R22-27 lakh will not be eligible. When contacted, a senior civic official agreed that only about 50 per cent of the flats in the city have OCs. "The GR is quite clear. The exemption can be given to those who have OCs. Those who are living in flats without an OC is technically committing an offence, and they have to pay a penalty for it," he said.
GR makes it clear
The GR states, "Residential buildings... existing on the date of coming into force of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, having carpet area of 500 sq. feet or less and recorded with such area in the municipal records on Jan 1, 2019, or in respect of which the permission to occupy has been granted by the corporation permitting such area to be occupied after such date of coming into force of the said ordinance."
Percentage of bldgs in city that do not have OC
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