The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Salt Lake signals stiff house-tax drive
- Civic body targets Rs 50 lakh mop-up by March

The cash-strapped Salt Lake municipality is planning a major tax-collection drive to fill its coffers. Bidhannagar Municipality chairman Dilip Gupta said on Thursday that an extensive drive would be launched from next week to collect arrear taxes from commercial and residential buildings.

“We target a sum of at least Rs 50 lakh by March,” he added.

Municipality officials said a number of companies, private hospitals, educational institutions and amusement parks will be brought under the tax net. “A list is being drawn up of commercial institutions that are not paying taxes. We shall send them a demand notice. If they do not respond, we will think of the next step,” they added.

Chandan Ghosh, CPM councillor and chairman of the municipality’s standing committee on finance, said the authorities were planning to regularise the tax structure in the township. “Most of the big companies in Salt Lake have come under the tax net but we have fixed an ad hoc rate. The rates will have to be regularised,” he maintained.

Ghosh said the rates for residential plots will also be revised. Owners of many buildings have added on floors, so the tax rates will automatically escalate.

Officials alleged that many educational and medical institutions are being run commercially, though they initially claimed to be service-providers. “These, too, will be brought under the tax net soon,” an official said.

Taxes are also due from a large number of companies in Sector V, the commercial hub of Salt Lake, and the Central government offices and housing estates, which had not been assessed earlier, officials said.

The municipality in the recent past was involved in a war of words with a state government body, the West Bengal State Electricity Board (SEB), over tax dues. While the municipality claimed that SEB owed it several lakhs by way of tax dues for its Vidyut Bhavan office, sub-stations and other offices and residences, the Board, on its part, alleged that the civic body’s electricity dues were huge. Several meetings have been held but the stalemate is yet to be resolved.

The municipality is contemplating the introduction of taxes in the added areas of the township, sources said. “The proposal will be placed in the board meeting on Friday,” an official said.

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