PROPERTY TAX records with the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation have gone missing, raising serious questions on the efficiency of the officials working with the tax branch. Every year, over Rs 30 crore is collected as property tax on average.
In case a resident does not possess a receipt of years’ old property tax payment of his house, he will have to pay all over again the tax from the date of notification of property tax in the city, that too with penalty and interest. Reason: Municipal Corporation says that they don’t have any records.
A vigilance inquiry into the matter has been initiated.
After finding Municipal Corporation officials reluctant to give any details sought by the UT vigilance department pertaining to missing property tax records, the secretary (vigilance) has decided to take the matter up at the level of Municipal Commissioner.
Secretary (Vigilance) B L Sharma told Chandigarh Newsline, “We had sought some details pertaining to this issue, like who the officials are who were supposed to have the custody of the records, details, account where the money was deposited and various other details pertaining to transactions. But the MC officials have been reluctant to provide these details. I will be taking up the matter with the Commissioner now.”
Anil Kumar Garg, Additional Commissioner in charge of the property tax branch, told Chandigarh Newsline, “We don’t have previous records. We have the present records which were digitized. If residents have made payment through bank, we can check those entries with the bank but if someone has made cash payment years ago and doesn’t possess receipt, we can’t help it.”
BJP councillor and former mayor Arun Sood said that the official in-charge of the custody of the records should be booked.
“Why can’t they fix accountability of the official who was supposed to keep the records? The officers are themselves not clear,” Sood stated. “In the house meeting, they gave a statement they have the records, then why can’t they check if a resident has made payment? Why are they making people pay all over again because of their mistake?”
He added, “There are so many residents who have actually paid property tax in the past and their only mistake is that they misplaced their receipt. Now they are being made to pay five-year tax. This is highly unfair.”
R K Garg, president of Second Innings Association on whose complaint the vigilance inquiry is going on, said that this is a serious lapse. “That the financial documents have been misplaced intentionally or otherwise is a serious lapse on the part of Municipal Corporation. It is a matter of investigation. Moreover, I am surprised that MC has not made any internal inquiry in the last few years. Things are not transparent in the civic body,” he said.
Satish Seth, 72-year-old former joint director with the Punjab government and a resident of Sector 38-D, said, “The officials have asked me to pay the tax from 2013 with 25 per cent penalty and further interest only because we don’t possess any receipt. I have made at least six rounds of the MC office but they say they don’t have any records. Why are we being made to run around for no fault of ours?”
The same is the case with I G Gupta, a resident of Sector 49, who said that he had been running from pillar to post to request the officials to check their records as he had paid the tax. “We are retired people and don’t have the energy to run around this much. I can just say that having no government record is a bigger fault than not possessing any receipt,” he stated.
MC Commissioner K K Yadav, however, said, “No, we have the records and these have been digitised. It is just that if a resident doesn’t have a receipt and it is not there in our records, then it is difficult to make out if the payment has been made. How can we find that this person has made the payment if it is not there in our records?”