Mysore Grahakara Parishat has been promoting the application of computers for Mysuru’s property tax system since 1989. With the exception of very few commissioners, every one has agreed that it is a great idea and they will work for it. Yet, computerizing the property tax has remained a dream.
The present hand written system is a disgrace. Filling up four forms to indicate amount of tax and preparing the two-page self assessment form are not wasteful. One is not sure whether the form has been correctly filled since the required data is not easily available. For those who want to defraud the system, the present situation is ideal. Is MCC competent in keeping track of all the information contained in more than 2 lakh filled forms, assuming all the property owners pay tax?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a call for digital India. With the presence of several software companies, Mysuru should have become a digital city by now. If our city can’t adapt digitization even for a simple application like property tax, how can we hope to become a digital city.
By computerizing the property tax MCC can increase tax collection at least 100%. It will help MCC to identify easily who are underestimating taxes. Digital system can enable to compare data using GIS (Geographic Information System) based Urban Property Ownership Records (UPOR). Of course such an efficient system also reduces the opportunities to collect bribes from those owners who do not like to pay their dues. Digitization can generate several useful reports which can help MCC to improve tax collection more efficiently.
For those property owners who want to pay the taxes and fulfill their civic responsibilities, having access to a digital system will be a great relief. They need not wait in long lines to pay as they have to do today. They can be sure that the taxes have been properly computed.
What is baffling is the deafening silence of our corporators. They take great interest in taking up useless and unproductive projects like constructing gutters where they are not required .They are interested to maintain control of Vani Vilas Water Works when it is best handed over to a professional management like Karnataka Water Supply and Drainage Board. But they are not concerned to improve property tax system!
Whenever MGP has approached the commissioners, the standard answer has been that they are waiting for software to be developed by Municipal Reforms Cell. This blame game has been going on for some years. It is to the credit of the present MCC commissioner, Dr.Betsurmut that he finally decided to get an in-house software developed . However, it is said that there was huge protest by the staff involved in the calculation of property tax and filling up of the forms against such a streamlined approach. Why is that corporators did not come to support the Commissioner when such computerization is beneficial to MCC and also the citizens?
The real blame lies with us. There are thousands of professionals in the city who are fully aware of the importance and usefulness of digitization. Why have they not put pressure on MCC to digitize the property tax system?