P. Samuel Jonathan

GUNTUR: Property tax hike for commercial establishments from October 1 came a `Bolt from the blue’ and no surprise small and medium retailers are predicting a death knell for their businesses, if the abnormal rise was not withdrawn.

“The volume of retail business has considerably shrunk due to globalisation and the onset of major retail chain outlets like Reliance. The steep hike in tax rate between 100 and 500 per cent would deal a death blow to the retailer,” according to Indian Chamber of Commerce, Guntur chapter president Atukuri Anjaneyulu.

With rising prices of essential commodities and dwindling profits, retail business has lost its sheen.

“The increase in volume of trade and business as envisaged by the Guntur Municipal Corporation is not correct. The GMC has no basis for revising the property tax based on the volume of business. Traders are paying the sales and income taxes,” he pointed out.

Categorisation

Traders were also fuming at the detailed categorisation of non-residential properties carried out by the GMC. The rental value of these establishments might change with the change in the business, they point out.

Former mayor Chukka Yesuratnam suggested a way out. “By reducing the tax rates, more number of people could be brought into the tax ambit.

The GMC should aim at voluntary tax compliance and take into consideration the opinions of all stakeholders,” he told The Hindu. “It is not correct to blame the residents for the poor rate of collection.

The corrupt building inspectors who had under assessed many buildings should also be punished,” the former mayor says.