Property tax, also referred to as realty tax, is an annual tax that owners of private property are required to pay to the local government in the city or county in which the property is located. The two main determinants of the property tax amount are the market value of the property and the local tax rates. Property owners may arrange to pay their property taxes in installments; but because the property tax is often included as a portion of the mortgage, lenders have the final say about property tax payment arrangements.
For various local city and county governments, property taxes are among the main sources of income generated. Property taxes fund a large portion of public education expenses. Other public services provided by the local government that are funded by property taxes include the fire department, maintenance and construction of roads, neighborhood parks, public libraries, and local courts.
If a property owner fails to pay property taxes in a timely fashion, penalties will be assessed and accumulated. However, if the original property tax amount plus the penalty amount is not paid within the period specified by the local government, the property may be seized by the local municipality for public use or for sale.
nit-area reforms in house tax ahead
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation, CMC and the state government have agreed to scrap the system of property tax based on rent the holding can fetch every year.
Municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya and mayor Bikash Bhattacharya both feel a weak tax administration, lack of transparency and tendency of tax evasion among a section of house-owners are the main reasons behind the civic body's economic dependence on the government.
According to them, it has led to piling of disputes and inspector Raj.
Over 27,000 assessment dispute cases in the CMC area are now pending at the municipal assessment tribunal, the high court and the Supreme Court.
The municipal affairs minister said the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2005, has already been forwarded to the Assembly after scrutiny.
According to the draft proposal, a municipal valuation committee will decide the base rate of unit-area value of each holding. The parameters in determining the base rate will include the age of the holding, its location, cost of construction and area.
The central public works department rate in 1998 will determine the cost of construction.
“CMC's economic independence has been the theme of the draft proposal for property tax reform. To achieve the goal, unit-area methodology needs to be pursued,” the mayor asserted.
He added that less tax and more coverage would be the goal of his board. “More revenue collection means less dependence on the state government's subsidies or grants.”
Sixty per cent of the total expenditure of the last Left Front board (which lost power in 2000) was borne by the state government. The Trinamul board (2000-2005) had brought down the figure to 36 per cent.
However, according to mayor Bhattacharya, the existing instruments create imbalances in tax between residential and non-residential buildings.
In augmenting the tax structure, care will be taken to see that the burden on middle-class and lower middle-class people does not become heavier. Flat-owners will have to pay property tax according to their category—HIG, MIG or LIG.