GIS-based survey reveals large-scale evasions

Even as the government is on a tax hike spree to fill its coffers, it is losing at least 50 per cent of its rightful revenue in municipalities and municipal corporations due to collusion of property owners and field-level property assessment staff.

A pilot survey commissioned by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development for a GIS-based system for assessment of property tax in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has confirmed this.

While it is no secret that under assessment and un-assessment of properties in cities and towns cuts into the revenues of municipalities and corporations, the magnitude of the loss in the pilot survey has left the authorities flummoxed.

The GIS-based survey included a sample of 1,794 properties with 3,254 assessments in four dockets from four circles under the GHMC. While the tax assessed was Rs. 98,63,745 as per GHMC recorded data, the GIS-based data said it should have been Rs. 2,35,30,000 based on the actual plinth area. The difference in the tax amount was Rs. 1.36 crore. A clear indication that in the GHMC data, thousands of the properties were either under or un-assessed. While the actual plinth area recorded in GIS-based survey is 55,56,368 sft, in GHMC data it was shown as 21,54,724 sft., sources told The Hindu. “If all the properties/buildings are assessed properly, the corporation can easily double its revenue and provide better civic amenities, drinking water, sanitation, roads without resorting to tax hikes,” they added.

Sam Bob, Principal Secretary, MA&UD told The Hindu that the GIS-based survey indeed brought out the huge differences between data in GHMC records and the actual data collected from the surveyed properties and recorded in hand-held devices. It must be the case in every city.

Rich defaulters

Thus the department decided to commission such pilot surveys throughout the State through respective municipalities and corporations. An Expression of Interest will be called soon for such surveys all over the State, he said.

The majority of defaulters are rich individuals, owners of big commercial properties, engineering colleges, private hospitals or those using residences for commercial purposes. Such suppression of data by some would increase the burden on honest tax payers. Individuals will also be given software shortly to assess their property tax as per given rates based on actual plinth area without depending on the field level staff, he said.

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