Confusion over agricultural land tax in Bengal

Nearly two weeks after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that the tax on agricultural land (khajna in Bengali) would be abolished, the State government is yet to issue a circular in this regard.

Speaking to The Hindu, sources in the Land and Land Reforms (LLR) department said they “have not received any such circular.”

Ms. Banerjee had announced at a government programme in Paschim Medinipur district earlier this month that those owning agricultural land below the stipulated upper limit (of six acres) would not be taxed. While the decision is expected to provide relief to an estimated 55 lakh small and medium farmers in the State, it will cost the State about ₹200 crore in revenue.

Officials in dilemma

According to sources in the LLR department, the delay in issuing the circular has put the employees responsible for tax collection in a spot. “Though we have no circular, land owners are refusing to pay the tax citing the Chief Minister’s announcement. Sometimes we are even facing abuse,” said an LLR official. Currently, a land owner has to pay ₹3 as tax per 435 [approximately] square feet of agricultural land per year in panchayat areas. In municipal areas the figure stands at about ₹15 per year.

The Chief Minister’s announcement has created “large-scale confusion” among employees of the department. The government was yet to provide clarifications, sources in the LLR department said.

“It is not clear whether the abolition of tax on agricultural land will be effective from the current financial year or the next financial year or will take effect retrospectively,” said a senior officer of the department.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 5:27:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/confusion-over-agricultural-land-tax-in-bengal/article18072633.ece

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