Chandigarh MC maintained no record of house tax | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Chandigarh MC maintained no record of house tax

‘Hit and trial’: Slaps notices on even those residents who were felicitated for paying tax on I-Day in 2015

punjab Updated: Jan 22, 2018 14:57 IST
Hillary Victor
Harmesh Gupta, superintendent of the MC house tax branch, admitted that records have not been maintained since 2013.
Harmesh Gupta, superintendent of the MC house tax branch, admitted that records have not been maintained since 2013. (HT File )

With the municipal corporation (MC) serving notices to more than 4,000 residents, asking them to either pay house tax or present payment receipts, it has come to the fore that since 2013 — when the tax was introduced — the civic body has neither maintained a demand and collection register nor allocated identification number to residential properties.

In fact, notices have also been issued to those people who were honoured for paying the tax by the then UT adviser, Vijay Dev, during the Independence Day function in 2015.

Gurdev Ram, president of the residents’ welfare association, Sector 23, was the first to be felicitated. He, too, got the notice along with other “defaulters” in Sectors 16, 17, 22, 23 and 36 last week.

“This is complete mismanagement on the civic body’s part,” said Gurdev Ram. “The officials have not done their homework and are harassing the residents. They talk of smart city, but don’t even have records of properties in the city. I am a person who always pays taxes and bills on time.”

Harmesh Gupta, superintendent of the MC house tax branch, admitted that records have not been maintained since 2013.

“We have issued the notices according to a geographic information system (GIS) survey for properties conducted by a private firm,” he said. Gupta said the MC has now started maintaining a demand and collection register and will also allocate property identification numbers.

Ambiguity in notices

The notices issued to house owners are also ambiguous as the civic body has not mentioned any details such as the period for which the fine has been imposed. Only the total amount has been mentioned.

Former mayor Subhash Chawla, who introduced house tax in 2013 and has received a notice for defaulting on Rs 23,000, said he has been paying the tax regularly.

“Most of the people who got the notice have been paying taxes regularly,” he said, adding that absence of records could lead to a scam in the civic body.

Group Captain RC Goyal (retd), a resident of Sector 36, said armymen are law abiding citizens and it was “unfortunate” that many of them have been served notices. “Why are residents being harassed when its the MC that failed to maintain records?” he said.

During the executive committee meeting of Federation of Sectors Welfare Association of Chandigarh, even MC commissioner Jitinder Yadav admitted lapses in maintaining records of house tax. “The residents are welcome to get it corrected by showing the receipts of tax paid,” he said.

About the tax

It was in 2013 that the MC imposed house tax at Rs 1 per square yard for houses covering an area of 125 square yards and more. However, it was rolled back in 2014-15 due to strong opposition. It was again rolled out with a hike of 16% through a notification on July 27, 2015. Owners of 5-marla houses have to pay tax ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500, depending on the zone and built-up area.

Under the self-assessment scheme, residents have to calculate the payable tax for only the vacant plot area outside the built-up area of the ground floor. The tax authorities are responsible for verifying if the taxpayer has provided the correct details.

Residents had peen paying the tax at e-sampark centres and a copy was sent to the MC office. However, instead of maintaining the records, the officials concerned just kept them in a file.