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Another house tax form

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has come up with yet another form for house taxpayers -- the sixth one in three years.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2006 02:38 IST

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has come up with yet another form for house taxpayers -- the sixth one in three years.

By the year, the forms get more complicated and obscure. Figure this: In case you are staying in a multi-storeyed building, the form for filing house tax returns for 2006-07 requires you to indicate the exact portion of the floor occupied by you -- single, front, back, left right, front left, front right, back left or back right.

The new four-page form, which is already being distributed to taxpayers through Citizen Service Bureaus (CSBs), has left even MCD tax experts baffled. The new form, which is available only in English, is not accompanied with any guide and has many errors. For example, in column 6 (B), 'unit area value' has been wrongly referred to as 'unit area rate', which might be confused with the rate of tax.

"Our department has already issued strict instructions to staff manning tax counters not to accept tax returns till the taxpayers fill up the new forms completely. However, even our own officers are finding it difficult to guide the taxpayer in filling up this new form," said a senior official in MCD's assessment and collection department.

"The 'unit area method' had been introduced as a layman's tax as it allows self-assessment. How does the MCD expect a commoner to carry out such complex calculations as required in the new form?" the official asked.

The law, however, does not require taxpayers to submit fresh returns every year. If there has been no change in their position from last year, the taxpayers can simply file a declaration while depositing tax.

However, the MCD has been bullying taxpayers by threatening to not accept their tax if they don't fill up these complicated forms.

The new form, MCD says, has been designed to collect data for computerising its house tax records -- which is a pre-requisite for the success of the 'unit area method' of taxation.

Last year too, the MCD had come with an equally complicated form designed by ECIL (handling MCD's computerisation) for the same purpose.

However, last year's data generated through ECIL-designed forms has been set aside.

"This year's form designed by e-Government's Foundation requires the taxpayers to furnish similar information as provided last year, but in a more complicated format," the official said.

Councillor Sanjay Puri said people were being unnecessarily harassed and being made to pay the price for MCD's failed computerisation programme. The new form remains silent on the issue of adjusting excess payments made in 2004-05 following numerous concessions announced that year.