The Dehradun Municipal Corporation (DMC) is planning to conduct an "intensive survey" to identify and penalise house tax evaders who are causing a loss of nearly Rs 1.5 crore annually to the civic body, officials said on Wednesday.
The DMC's decision is seen as a fall-out of house-owners' alleged reluctance to reveal details of let out property, which has been brought under a new, enhanced tax slab recently.
The capital's civic body has been grappling with deficit house tax collection over the years which, officials said, were seriously affecting functioning of the DMC.
"We have not been able to do much (in this regard) so far but are hoping that the issue will be addressed through an intensive survey of residential properties which we are planning to conduct through a private company," municipal commissioner Harak Singh Rawat said.
Rawat admitted that the DMC was losing 25% to 30% of total tax revenue annually.
In 2013-14, house tax bills were generated for Rs 6.04 crore but only Rs 4.38 crore -- around 72% -- was actually realised, DMC officials revealed.
Even in the current financial year, the DMC has been able to realise just Rs 1.28 crore of the Rs 8-crore target in the first half of 2014-15.
The DMC recently imposed new tax rates on rented property with retrospective effect from April 2014, charging 25% additional annual tax on property up to ten years old and 12.5% for property 10 to 20 years old.
In the first phase collecting tax under the new rates, the DMC is focusing on 15 wards located in the capital's outer limits. Dehradun had 60 wards in total.
According to officials, only 10% of around 7,000 house owners who have submitted forms have declared let out property.
Under a self-assessment method followed by the DMC, house owners are required to fill up forms mentioning details about their respective property including tenants.
However, the civic body has no mechanism to ascertain the details declared by residents.
Rough estimates by the DMC put the number of house owners at around 1.2 lakh in the entire city.
After the imposition of the new tax rates, there are fears that the rates of rented properties will see a sharp spike besides leading to "unofficial" rent agreements by house owners trying to hide their income from rented property.
"The trend is bound to grow even more now, further intensifying revenue loss for the DMC and the menace of black money," said Mahesh Bhandari, president of Doon Residents' Welfare Front.
Rajeev Sharma, president of the Dehradun Bar Association, said it was unfortunate that the civic body had failed to crack down upon such house owners.