Residents are up in arms against the municipal corporation's demand for property tax in arrears from 2004-05 on common areas.
Residents of Cooperative Group Housing Societies in East Delhi are shocked at the East Delhi Municipal Corporation's move to charge property tax from societies even for the common areas.
And the latest notice from the corporation wants all societies to cough up arrears in the tax thus calculated from the year 2004-05, citing different sections of the DMC Act for its demand.
Residents are shocked, as the notice wants them to pay property tax on the society office, common space, recreation hall, basement, reception, guard room and other common areas.
“Your attention is invited that you were required to submit your property tax return in respect of vacant land, super covered area of the building being in the capacity of owner/occupier of the aforesaid property,” EDMC’s notice issued to societies read.
More shockingly, residents have been asked to pay this tax from 2004-05 till the current year.
“It appears that you have probably failed to furnish the return of property tax without reasonable cause, which you were required to furnish under the 123A/ 123B of the DMC Act,” the notice said.
At a meeting held on Sunday at Nirman Apartments in Mayur Vihar Phase I Extension, members of 22 group housing societies of the neighbourhood condemned the act and described it as arbitrary and unjust.
Sanjeev Jayaswal, president of Nirman Apartments, said, "It is a serious issue and we must all unite to fight it. EMDC has sent this notice without knowing the actual financial condition of the cooperative group housing societies in East Delhi. When most of the societies are facing a tough time maintaining societies due to financial crises, levying more taxes is unjust.”
The members pointed out that the guard rooms were constructed to provide some comfort to the security guards. Private security guards were necessary, as the government had failed to provide security to citizens, the members noted.
JP Sharma, general secretary of Vansundhara Enclave CGHS Federation, said the government should provide financial help to housing societies, not levy more taxes. “In Delhi villages, the government provides funds for Chaupal [public spaces]. The government constructs community centres in villages, and here in societies it is levying taxes on common areas!” Sharma said.
EMDC had made a similar attempt four years ago of levying property tax on vacant common land. “Residents of housing societies pay 100 per cent property tax, despite the fact that we are not receiving any facilities from the government for free. But the government does not dare collect taxes from those who avail facilities from different government agencies,” Sharma added.
Some members said that the issue ought to be fought legally. Purusottam Bhatt, president of United India Apartments, said, “DMC Act-123 A and 123 B are applicable to shops and commercial establishments. Common areas, or other facilities in the societies, are being used by residents and are not commercial units.”
Vipin Bihari, standing committee chairman (EDMC), said, “This proposal is not presented before the standing committee. I assure you that I will raise this issue in the next standing committee meeting.”