Tough time ahead for tax evasion squads

It’s going to be a tough time ahead for the cash-strapped city corporation. The special squads of the corporation’s revenue department, constituted to identify tax evasion and unauthorised buildings in city, have suspended their operations, following pressure from political and bureaucratic higher-ups.

“The squad was under constant pressure from political leaders and bureaucratic higher-ups. Action against many of the major unauthorised building owners and tax evaders had to be stopped, following pressure,” said a top civic administrator on condition of anonymity.

Despite the mayor and the deputy mayor being very much in support of the drive against tax defaulters and unauthorised constructions, the squad had to succumb to the pressure from top politicians. Though the squad had initiated steps to attach the buildings which failed respond to the notice, the procedures were suspended, he added.

The functioning of the special squads was a big hit and it uncovered several major tax fraud cases and unauthorised constructions during the three-month long raids.

Squad officials served notices to several major hospitals, hotels and commercial establishments for tax evasion on which many of the defaulters remitted part of the tax payment.

The civic body could garner a considerable amount from the raid. During its raid, the special squads had identified more than 234 cases of tax evasion in Edappally and on MG Road.

Earlier, the operation of the special squad was temporarily suspended on December 31 as part of the special tax collection drive and the squad members were shifted for the drive. From this drive, the local body could increase its total tax collection revenue by around Rs 100 crore during the last fiscal.

The revenue department authorities had stated that the functioning of the special squad would resume after March 31. However, the revenue department is now unsure of the operations being resumed.

Meanwhile, sources in the revenue department said that the new self-assessment of tax should help plug loopholes in building tax collection and the revenue officials would be made accountable for faults in the assessment.

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