The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tap threat for Salt Lake tax

Several commercial units, including schools and health institutes, and some residential buildings in Salt Lake may run dry after the Pujas for denying the civic authorities several crores by way of property tax.

With notices and persuasion drawing negligible response, the town planners have decided to act tough. “We will send out demand notices. If we get no response, we will take action as provided in the civic rules, which includes disconnecting water supply and withdrawing other civic services,” a senior Bidhannagar Municipality official said on Friday. “Our deadline for payment of arrear taxes ended in mid-September,” an official of the municipality’s finance department said.

As the amount of unpaid taxes has shot up to almost Rs 3 crore, the chairman-in-council will decide on a course of action at its next monthly meeting. Municipality chairman Dilip Gupta said the civic body was particularly targeting big commercial institutes, like educational institutions, private hospitals and guest houses. “A number of them have not paid any tax since being set up,” he said.

Official sources said a state government guest house has more than Rs 25 lakh due. Its authorities have promised to settle the arrears, the sources added. “There are other commercial organisations that have communicated with us but the number is few,” the finance department official said. However, in Sector V, the industrial hub of the township, the number of defaulters is extremely low. “We have no problems with the companies in Sector V,” he added.

In the last financial year, the municipality had added nearly Rs 6 crore to its coffers by way of property taxes and this year, the budgetary estimate is Rs 8 crore. To achieve this target, the municipality has decided to act tough with organisations that have been evading tax on grounds of doing social work.

“We have no provision to allow tax benefits to these organisations,” said Chandan Ghosh, chairman of the municipality’s standing committee on resource mobilisation. Ghosh alleged that most of the organisations, including private hospitals and schools, were conducting a roaring business but were denying the municipality property tax.

Another problem area is residential plot-owners who let their houses on rent. “In most cases, they do not provide us with details of their tenancy agreements. This is posing problems in calculating taxes,” Ghosh said.

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