City evades tax worth crores

The GHMC is earning 15 times less revenue than it should actually be collecting from thousands of property owners in the city, if the sample survey conducted by it is any indication. After a survey of 5,000 properties in the city, it was discovered that the owners were paying Rs 500 or less tax per annum and the GHMC is generating only Rs 15 lakh per annum in property tax, as against at least Rs 2 crore it should be getting from these owners.

The GHMC is in the process of re-surveying and re-assessing nearly 3.50 lakh properties, owners of which are paying less than Rs 500 towards property tax per annum. “If small property owners are evading tax payment by 15 times the original assessment, what must be the evasion by bigwigs like malls, commercial establishments, corporate hospitals, corporate colleges and showrooms,” said an official.

Inquiries revealed that the owners of small properties could not have managed to pay less than Rs 500 per annum for years together without the involvement of some unscrupulous officials in collection of taxes and also those from the town planning department. For example, an owner paying Rs 500 per annum for a ground floor house continues to pay the same amount even after he constructs three more floors. He earns a rental of more than Rs 20,000 per month. Lack of coordination between officials of the tax wing and town planning is also one of the reasons for the GHMC not getting its rightful revenue, an official said, adding, “The GHMC is in the process of issuing notices to all such owners to pay up taxes as per re-assessment.”

Officials have prepared a list of 3.39 lakh properties where owners pay taxes ranging from an incredulously low Rs 100 to Rs 500 per annum.

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