Fine for tax arrears missing in ordinance on tax revision

The absence of penal provisions in the recent ordinance on property tax revision may help owners of illegal constructions avoid paying a fine.

Fines for property tax arrears find no mention in the ordinance which was promulgated in December. This lacuna might prompt violators to get their buildings regularised by paying the property tax arrears, said an official of the Kochi Corporation. Officials fear the loophole might cause huge monetary losses to local bodies.

The earlier law allowed the civic authority to slap three times the eligible tax on unauthorised buildings. The Corporation could also collect tax for the preceding three years on confirmation of the violation.

The Kochi Corporation had recently during a drive identified 14,000 illegal buildings in the city. Majority of the violations comprised construction of additional floors and extensions to existing structures.

Manjalamkuzhi Ali, the Minister for Urban Affairs and Welfare of Minorities, said the government had not changed the fine component on unauthorised structures. The local bodies could proceed against the illegal constructions and slap fines as per the existing rules, he said.

Lack of clarity

The lack of clarity on the ordinance had not come to the notice of the State government. If required, the State government would come up with a clarification on the issue shortly. All that the government did was to rationalise the tax collection across the State, he said.

Meanwhile, Kochi Corporation authorities are planning to issue notices to violators from next month. The owners will be asked to produce relevant documents including the approved building plan and tax assessment details. They will be given one month’s time to produce the documents. Failure to produce documents would result in the structure being included in the unauthorised category and property tax would be reassessed accordingly, officials said.

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