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Merry-go-round on tax dues

The civic body has decided to double the holding tax rate in the capital but it is yet to recover the mammoth amount various government departments and organisations owe it.

The total amount of holding tax that various government organisations owe Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) is Rs 153.64 crore, said a source on Tuesday. The biggest defaulter is Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) — it owes the civic body Rs 150.03 crore.

The BSEB owns 227 buildings in Patna, including a residential colony at Patel Nagar. Sources said the power board had not paid holding taxes since 1970.

The other government sector defaulters of holding tax are Bihar Rajya Hastkargha Bunkar Shayog Samiti Sangh (Rs 10,71,754), Patna Medical College and Hospital (Rs 5,20,779), Education Research and Training Institute (Rs 2,54,364), Anjuman Islamia Hall (Rs 2,53,546) and Patna Dental College (Rs 3,87,828).

The PMC claims it is helpless to recover the large sums due from the government organisations.

A senior civic body officer said: “We have sent several letters and notices to the different government organisations in the past but in vain. The organisations have not bothered to reply to our letters or notices.”

He added: “The PMC does not have any power to punish anyone. Though the recent amendment to the Bihar Municipal Act (2007) empowers the civic body to attach the property and the bank accounts of tax-defaulters if they do not pay civic taxes, the corresponding rules have not yet come into effect. So we cannot exercise the powers yet.”

Sources said the PMC last served notices on the power board for non-payment of holding taxes on November 11, 2011. Several meetings were held on the issue and the chief secretary of the state had also intervened in the matter. But the amount due is yet to be recovered.

Asked why the power board was not clearing the pending taxes, the BSEB spokesperson, H.R. Pandey, said the civic body owed it a larger sum.

“The PMC owes the BSEB nearly Rs 300 crore as power tariff,” he said, adding that discussions were underway to sort out the problem. “A decision will soon be taken on the issue,” said Pandey.

The PMC board on Monday approved the proposal to double the rate of holding tax in the city after a gap of 17 years. The civic body would also work on including more houses under the ambit of holding tax.

According to the records with the civic body there are 1,87,000 holdings in the city, registered with the PMC. But total number of buildings in the city is around 5 lakh, according to estimates.

PMC commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pal said the annual target for collection of holding tax for the past two years was Rs 33 crore but the civic body was able to collect only Rs 17 crore in 2010-11 and only Rs 28 crore in 2011-12.


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