SMS alerts on taxes followed by e-collection

Soon, on April 2 every year, citizens can expect SMS alerts on their mobile phones reminding them of the basic tax (land, building, and plantation) they owe the government that financial year, Revenue department officials say.

The message will also seek the permission of the recipient to electronically transfer the sum from his bank account to the Treasury. If he authorises the payment through an SMS reply, the levy will be automatically deducted from his account. The village officer concerned will almost simultaneously e-mail him a digitally authenticated tax receipt.

The government will launch the mobile phone-based public service delivery and e-Governance scheme as a pilot project at Mallappally taluk in Pathanamthitta district this year. A senior official says the department chose Pathanamthitta because almost all land-owning citizens there, including those from low-income segments of society, have bank accounts, thus making delivery of financial services easier. The district has almost 100 per cent mobile phone penetration.

Registration

Beneficiaries of the scheme will have to register themselves at a proposed new website (smartrevenue.kerala. gov.in), wherein they will have to submit their mobile phone and bank account numbers and e-mail addresses in a prescribed format. The project will be implemented in a phased manner in 1,632 village offices across 64 taluks in the State. The tax thus collected will be remitted to the Treasury the same day. It will help the department do away with the practice of keeping tax money in village offices for long periods. The State will get a higher bank interest on the tax remittances. The department hopes to check pilferage of funds, make payments to the government more citizen-friendly, and establish financial transparency in one stroke.

Lease alert system

It has also put in place a system to send mobile alerts to revenue officials to intimate them about expiry of the lease period of government land rented out to charitable organisations, educational institutions, hospitals, and private clubs. Leaseholders will also receive the alerts.

Officials say the renewal or recovery of leased government land, running into thousands of hectares, is often delayed inordinately due to lack of information, profusion of “highly tampered, unreliable, and inaccessible public land records.”

Additional Chief Secretary Nivedita P. Haran, Revenue Secretary G. Kamalavardhan Rao, and Assistant Commissioner, Land Assignment, D. Sajith Babu, are heading the project.

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