Monday, June 8, 2015

Residents rush to pay property tax as deadline approaches

SOME Dar es Salaam city residents have shown their commitments by responding to the government call that requires them to promptly pay their property tax on time in order to avoid inconveniences that might arise after the normal deadline usually slated by June 30th every year. The survey in three municipal councils of Ilala, Temeke and Kinondoni in Dar es Salaam region this week witnessed a large influx of tax payers busy taking their printout forms issued to them by customers at the paying service counters. Among the tax payers who thronged the paying counters standing in single file some complained the inflated rates of their property taxes reviewed after an evaluation which was done two years ago in order for them to pay the required amount needed according to the law. In an interview with the Guardian, they expressed their disappointment saying that no any changes which have been made so far on their bills despite their appeal since then. Contacted for comments, the Public Relations Officer of Ilala Municipal Council Tabu Shaibu, said that, the move comes after the municipal officials had recently announced to impose severe punishments to the defaulters who do not want to comply with the laid down rules and regulations which requires them to pay such taxes according to the stipulated laws. 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 to enable them acquire loans from the bank. But now have been allocated with different paying rates following an exercise of valuing them which was done by help of World Bank two years ago and their current rating standards for such residential houses stands at between Sh. 23,400/- and Sh. 100,000/- respectively. Peter Mrefu, a resident of Markaz area at Kipunguni ‘B’ suburb at Ukonga on the outskirts of the city lamented saying that his new property tax bill which is being paid for the third year now is higher bearing the fact that, he has a seven roomed house. However, he says that 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 sent an appeal to review his tax rates which had amounted to Sh. 33,000/- after an evaluation was done for his five roomed house but to no avail. However, he also had no option except to settle his payment to avoid further inconveniences. Samson Kidugwa of Buguruni kwa Mnyamani said that, he is rushing to settle down his property tax bills to beat the deadline later this month, drawing his experience from the past that the exercise becomes rather difficulty and chaotic when few days are remaining. Anna Masanja of Mwananyamala Kisiwani was caught by this writer at Kinondoni municipal council on Thursday this week together with others who had thronged the customers’ counter with their bills in their hands forcing their movements to get to the cashier to settle their payments. In an exclusive interview, she noted that, property tax is a must as it is an obligatory at  this time when the government is insisting people to have a tradition of paying their property taxes wherever possible. Juma Kidanga, a resident of Keko Machungwa in Temeke district also could not be left behind in this exercise especially when he recalled what happened to him last year when he was late to pay his taxes is a lesson, an aspect that instead found himself paying with a penalty for an additional amount due to lateness. 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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