Online Property Tax: Navigating the ‘Unmapped’ Territory

Business City Technology

The Mysore City Corporation (MCC) introduced an online payment option In April this year to pay property tax, but it has been marred by technical glitches and uneven mapping so far. 

Mysuru: When Shaila realised she need not stand in long queues at the tax collection office to pay property tax like every year, she heaved a sigh of relief. But there was disappointment waiting in the store for her. She could only successfully pay the tax for one of her two properties. The second payment has not happened even after a month of the MCC introducing the online payment. 

“It’s not accepting the payment at all, I think I may have to go to the office to pay the tax once the number of cases go down,” she woefully said.

The MCC introduced the new mode of payment to pay property tax online from April 1, 2021. 

When Mahabaleshwar, 73, tried to pay property tax online, the page displayed an error. The page said, “Input string was not in the correct format.” After he complained to the MCC, they said many properties in the city are not mapped, and that’s why this is happening. 

“I have to go to a Mysuru One Centre to pay the property tax if the online mode of payment does not work. With COVID, it’s not safe,” he said.

This is not a case of an outlier. Many people across the city have faced similar issues. Either they cannot pay the tax online because of the error message, or the properties are not mapped at all. 

Uma Mani’s house in Chamarajapuram in the city is not mapped. She has not been provided with a Property Identification Number (PID) or a QR code that is essential for paying the property tax online. When the MCC decided to make the payment online, they went to many properties in the city. They stamped the generated QR code and the PID number to allow online payments from April 1, 2021. But, many properties in the city do not come in this category. 

Last year because of COVID, the property tax collection remained low.

“Nobody from the MCC visited my house and stamped anything. They have extended the deadline for payment with a five per cent rebate until May end, and if they don’t come by then, I have to make a trip to pay the tax offline. It’s COVID, and it’s risky,” she said. 

Nagamani Ramachandra ended up going to the Mysore One Centre to pay the tax when she realised that her property was also not mapped. “I went in the third week of April because with COVID, I did not want to take any risks by postponing the payment,” she said. 

The online property tax collection was long overdue. It was proposed in 2010, and finally this year, it saw the light of the day. But it has come at a cost. The MCC had a target of collecting Rs 140 crore of property tax as it’s one of their major sources of revenue. They only collected Rs 114 crore, and to bridge the shortfall, online payment also acts as one of the ways to make sure the citizens pay their tax. 

“The MCC has done it again. Every year its bureaucratic structure takes a toll on poor citizens who struggle in the hot sun to pay the property tax. I already visited their Zonal Office in Sharadadevinagar. The website it has created for calculation and payment of taxes failed in every step,” said HG Subramanya in the Voice of the Reader column for Star of Mysore, the local daily. 

Nagaraj, Deputy Commissioner (Revenue), MCC, in a response to a complaint said, “Yes, I admit that issues are there and at the same time, we have dedicated teams comprising software engineers and officers to solve the glitches.”

There are a lot of issues with online payment, explained Chirag Kashyap, a computer engineer. “Not all records in the government are computerized, and if they are, then all the details are not fed into the systems and mapped,” he said. 

“After the mapping, the generated QR code should be linked with the property details, and if they are not properly linked, that’s when the error messages are generated. All of these issues take time to get resolved,” he added.