The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Houses in double-tax trouble
- Failure to produce old receipts pilots civic demand for arrears

House-owners in the city have threatened to launch a movement against the Trinamul Congress board of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) for its attempts to realise property tax twice from them.

“The worst part is that the civic authorities are not only demanding an amount already paid years ago, they are also levying interest and a penalty on it while making the fresh demand,” complained All-Calcutta House-Owners Association president Amar Mitra.

He said that:

- The civic board cannot demand that a house-owner produce proof of taxes paid more than 10 years ago

- Since the CMC is claiming interest and penalty on outstanding bills, if a house-owner can furnish documents of the payment made earlier, he must be allowed a special rebate of 10 per cent of the total amount wrongfully demanded from him.

An apartment-owner in the Park Street police station area received a startling demand notice from the CMC for the four quarters of this year last week. The CMC also claimed an outstanding amount of Rs 5 lakh (Rs 2.48 lakh, along with an interest of Rs 2.22 lakh and penalty of about Rs 29,000) from him.

S.K. Das of Chetla called on CMC assessor and collector Bhaskar Ghosh a few days ago, after receiving a demand notice for tax he had already paid. The principal amount demanded was about Rs 62,000. Though several of his tax receipts had been misplaced, Das could prove that Rs 53,000 of the claim had already been paid. He requested the civic official to scrap the notice sent to him in good faith.

But his request was not honoured. He has been asked to deposit about Rs 20,000 to clear his outstandings, along with interest and penalty.

House-owners say what irritates them most in a demand notice is a red-lettered intimation, advising them to “Please ignore this information if already paid”. They say they can cheerfully ignore the bill, but the CMC won’t.

For the CMC to scrap the bill, a house-owner will have to prove with documents, even 30 years old, that he has already paid the tax. If the old receipts are lost or destroyed, he has no alternative but to cough up the amount.

“It is a problem,” admitted officer on special duty to the mayor Shaktibrata Ghosh. “The mayor is aware of it. He has directed the revenue department not to raise outstanding demands beyond 1984,” Ghosh added.

“In at least 60 per cent of the cases, the house-owner fails to produce the receipts, and is forced to pay the amount demanded by the CMC,” said a senior tax assessor and collector.

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