The Greater Chennai Corporation(GCC)has proposed a 20% one-time discount to big ticket property tax defaulters who together owe the civic body more than 346 crore.
The GCC’s offer, however, comes with some riders. Defaulters can avail themselves of the discount only if they clear the dues at one go, that too within three months of the council adopting a resolution in that regard.
Of the total defaulters numbering 1.12 lakh, at least 44,436 have not paid property tax for more than 10 years, and they alone owe 245 crore to the GCC.
The scheme, which has been sent to the state government for approval, targets those who have accumulated dues for more than five years.
The council will take it up for a final nod once it obtains concurrence from the state government. “Further action would be based on what the government says,” said deputy commissioner Vishu Mahajan. Under Section 137 A of the Chennai City Municipal Act, 1919, the corporation has the power to exempt a person from taxes with the sanction of the state government, the corporation said in its council resolution on Tuesday.
Corporation officials portrayed the move as win-win for both sides, saying the discount would help the civic body get dues at one go and property owners could avoid expensive court cases. Accounts standing committee chairman K Dhanasekaran said the intention was good, but “the policy should not end up as a precedent for people to not pay taxes for five years so they can avail 20% discount”. Some residents were cautious while welcoming the new policy. “This should not become a permanent policy as it will make people complacent to pay taxes,” said Satish Galley of OMR.
Thanks to the upward revision of property tax earlier this year, the revenue collection under property tax head has doubled as compared to last year. From 700 last financial year, property tax collection has touched 1,400 crore so far. While this year’s target is ₹1,500 crore, the civic body has raised the bar for next financial year – property tax target has been kept at 1,680 crore for next year.