Step to check stamp duty evasion
IN A bid to prevent evasion of stamp duty on the registration of properties, the State Government has now made it mandatory for the buyers to furnish a photograph of the property in question.
Since stamp duty is assessed on the cost of the land as well as any construction thereon, instances abound where the buyers have defrauded the exchequer by paying duty only on the land cost. And they almost always got away with it, as there was no mechanism for cross-verification of the information being furnished by the buyer.
“The arrangement has had a very successful run in NOIDA,” said deputy registrar OP Singh. It has now been extended to urban areas all over the State from October 3 and applies to registration of residential, commercial and industrial properties. Rural localities had been spared in the first phase on the grounds that photography facility was not easily available in them, he said.
Allottees of development authorities and the UP Housing and Development Board too have been exempted from the rule on the first time registration of their properties. “This is because properties by these development agencies are not sold on the basis of circle rates prescribed by the district magistrate,” said the deputy registrar. The stipulation, however, would apply on the resale of property by these people, he added.
The directive issued by Inspector General (Registration), Lucknow, Sunil Kumar stated that cases of stamp duty evasion were on the rise in the absence of any mechanism for spot verification of a property prior to the execution of its registry. “It has been seen that details of a property are not fully and truly set forth at the time of signing of the instrument by both the buyers and purchasers, which is a violation of Section 27 of the Indian Stamp Act,” Kumar pointed out. Concealment of facts is an offence under Section 64 of the Act and punishable with a fine that may extend to Rs 5,000 per instrument (sale deed).
“In fact, several deputy registrars have found themselves at the receiving end in the past as they have been held accountable by the State Government for tax evasion,” added Kumar.
The question being asked is: who will verify or attest the photograph being provided by the buyer with the deed.
“There is no need for that. Prima facie we will treat the information being given by the applicant as true,” said deputy registrar OP Singh. But then wouldn’t that provide an escape route to the evaders?
Singh replies in the negative. “We would be conducting a random check of the sale deeds from time to time to bring such erring people to book,” he said.