Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The increased property tax rate impresses Dar city residents

SOME Dar es Salaam city residents have expressed their disappointment over the newly introduced property tax rate which the government has raised up to over 100 percent effectively from 2013/14 financial year. They have expressed their worries during an on the spot interview with this blog last week in Dar es Salaam when found had thronged at some TRA offices in the city busy taking print outs for their newly evaluated house bills so as to meet the deadline set as of 30th June. It was later witnessed that, the newly introduced rating standards differs as in accordance to the value of a house whose evaluation had started since 2010, and now are made workable for both planned and unplanned settlements during this year’s financial year. Initially, most residents whose houses have been built in unplanned settlements had been paying an annual property tax at a flat rate of Sh. 10,000/- since their recognition in the year 2000 and licenses to recognize their presence was legally issued to be used by their owners as collateral. But now have been allocated with different paying rates following an exercise of valuing them underwent through for the last three years. Now the rating standards for such residential houses has been ranged between Sh. 23,400/- and Sh. 50,000/- respectively. Francis Abaja, a resident of Markaz area at Kipunguni ‘B’ suburb at Ukonga on the outskirts of the city lamented when he received his property tax bill that shows an inflated amount of Sh. 42,700, whereas he was used to a flat rate of Sh. 10,000/- paid for his seven roomed house. However, he wondered as to why this has come about without his prior notification, but has no means whatsoever except to settle down his bills as the deadline was already approaching to avoid the impending legal action in future. Another resident, Joseph Makorere of Mazizini area, Ukonga ward in Ilala district experienced the same fate as he was perplexed to see his bill has risen up to Sh. 30,000/- for his five roomed house. However, he also lamented and failed to get formal explanations when he demanded from the service counter which at least could make him become convinced and rather satisfied with the current rating standards. However, he had no option except to settle his payment which he paid to TRA through the Bank. The survey witnessed scores of other residents who became distraught and somehow showed a downcast face when they realized their names and plot numbers were missing and not registered in a property valuation roll. In order to ascertain their correctness, were duly informed to see officials of the evaluation department of any of the three Municipal Councils of Temeke, Ilala and Kinondoni as quick as possible before the deadline. Investigations by this paper has come up with the truth that, most owners of the residential buildings were not informed when the new rating standards would effectively start despite of the fact that had their houses evaluated for newly introduced taxes. Some were surprised over the implementation of the whole exercise as they had no one to explain for them into details about the new changes which most of them were not aware of, but remained silent with some who were heard saying would try to appeal to have them lowered. However, an officer-in-Charge of the property evaluation said in an interview when contacted for comment that, each house had been evaluated and its value taken and calculated with the imposition of 0.15 percent rate to give the actual amount in figures as a normal bill. Genduefa Mazenge of Ilala Municipal Council told the Guardian in an exclusive interview that, the rating standards will last for the coming five years’ trading period, after which another evaluation would take place thereafter. The imposition of property tax in the country goes back to the colonial period when various forms of hut and house taxes were levied. Today, powers to levy property taxes are provided under the Local Government Finances Act of 1982. Nevertheless, it is the Urban Authorities (Rating) Act of 1983 which sets out the modalities for the rating exercise itself.  The Urban Authorities (Rating) Act (1983) empowers urban authorities to levy rates. Rating authorities are taken to include both urban and township authorities. Ratable property means houses which are in actual occupation together with the improvements thereon.

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