The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tax reform in added area debut

There is respite in sight from the clutches of corrupt civic inspectors at last. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee is set to flag off the first round of his property tax assessment reforms in Calcutta from the added areas of Behala, Garden Reach and Jadavpur.

In the new system, to be effective from the general revaluation of the second quarter of 2001-2002, it will be mandatory for the assessment inspectors to visit a house and meet its owner to bring it under the civic property tax net. At present, calculation of civic tax on a property is largely dependent on the whims of the assessment inspectors and they are not accountable for the calculation.

The main objective of the reform is to offer a house-owner an opportunity to disclose relevant data regarding his landed property voluntarily, and make the assessment inspectors accountable for calculating the quantum of property tax on it. A form, in the format of a questionnaire, has been printed for the purpose.

The questions include: The number of the lamp-post and landmark nearest to the building; the number of flats in an apartment building; nature of the premise; nature of the building; number of storeys; measurements of bedroom, dining space, bathroom, kitchen, garage, etc; number of tenants and rent collected from them.

After visiting a house, an assessment inspector will get the form filled up by the owner. Both the house-owner and the inspector will put their signatures on it. A carbon copy of the filled-up form will be handed over to the landlord for his future reference.

Tax will be imposed or revised on the basis of the information provided by the landlord. If the inspector’s findings do not tally with the submission by the house-owner, he can write a note of dissent on it. In that case, the matter will be referred to hearing officers for a final decision.

“We are introducing the system first in the added areas of Behala, Garden Reach and Jadavpur. Subsequently, it will be implemented in Calcutta proper too,” according to officer-on-special duty to the mayor Shaktibrata Ghosh.

The civic authorities hope it will bring at least 200,000 buildings under the civic tax net by 2003 and augment the annual collection of property tax revenue by more than Rs 30 crore.

“Tax payers living in the city core area (wards five to 90) are already overburdened, whereas almost an equal number of house-owners and flat-owners have been enjoying undue tax privileges”, the mayor pointed out.

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