PMC cashes in on demonetisation drive
As the civic body gets flooded with Rs 130 crore in long-pending tax payments, I-T dept sniffs around for potential defaulters
The honest citizens of Pune have never been this eager to pay their taxes. In the last 13 days alone, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has been swamped with Rs 130 crore in property taxes — all of it in the now defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
Many of these payments have been pending for as long as five years, and defaulters only came forward to pay up after the shock ban on the higher denomination currency notes.
Usually, the PMC has to think up ingenious ways to get people to cough up their property tax, and in the past, the corporation has even hired troupes of musicians to shame defaulters with ‘band bajaa’ outside their homes. This time, it was more like ‘ban bajaa’.
Two days after the government began the demonetisation drive, PMC announced on November 10 that it would accept the old currency notes in tax payments. The very next day, Rs 37 crore had piled up at the municipal office. At the last count yesterday, the civic body had raked in nearly Rs 130 crore in cash payments.
Most of these payments were in the range of Rs 5-50 lakh, but the largest cash payment in the past fortnight rounded up to a whopping Rs 8 crore, shelled out by a firm.
Encouraged by the cash flooding in, the authorities have now decided to continue accepting the banned notes till November 30 to give the civic body a chance to recover all dues.
If visiting the municipal headquarters is inconvenient, defaulters can also make payments at 15 other offices spread across the city. PMC has deployed 200 staffers for this job and two private banks have also been authorised to accept these tax payments.
There are those who have objected to the fact that citizens are using the scheme to get rid of their black money and pending taxes in one fell swoop, and have demanded that such payments be investigated.
Former deputy mayor and NCP leader Deepak Mankar raised the issue in the general body meeting on Friday, stating, “The Modi government is trying to curb black money but such defaulters are approaching PMC and paying their dues which have been pending for more than five years.”
“The government is penalising anyone who reports more than Rs 2.5 lakh in the banned currency, but these people are paying crores of rupees in the same notes to PMC. Such defaulters should be reported to the Income Tax department,” Mankar added.
Despite repeated attempts, the I-T department refused to comment, but Suhas Mapari, head of the property tax department of PMC, confirmed, “In 13 days, we have received around R130 crore in cash. Counting payments made by cheques or demand drafts, a total of Rs 910 crore has been recovered so far. But 70% of this is in cash, with some payments running into crores. The I-T department has approached us for details about such payments and we shall hand over the details to them.”
Rs 390 cr
Amount of property tax yet to be recovered
Rs 8 cr
Largest single payment in cash in the past fortnight
Water activist Amla Ruia speaks to mid-day