Hyd: Property frauds plague self-assessment feature

HYDERABAD: Aimed at making property tax payments easier, the self-assessment feature offered by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation’s (GHMC) has given rise to cases of fraud.
The civic body has received as many as 200 complaints, through various deputy commissioners, about people forging fake property tax documents not owned by them. In fact, sources highlighted instances where people have uploaded a photo of a blank paper online while they were supposed to submit a registered sale deed.

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Raising the issue at general body meeting, BJP corporator from B N Reddy Nagar, Modhu Lachi Reddy, said that this misuse must be arrested. While some GHMC staff said that property tax will be “calculated automatically by the system based on plinth area, usage of the property and circle details entered by the citizen” – trying to claim that there is little room for illegality – others aired a different opinion.
This process too can be exploited, they said, as there are no checks and balances to verify whether the plinth area and usage of property submitted by the owner is accurate. “There are complaints where the plinth area mentioned is lesser than what it is in reality and this is a huge loss to the exchequer,” a GHMC official told TOI.
So far, the civic body has collected about 15.9 crore from 32,089 assessments. Apart from a revenue loss, some fear that the self-assessment feature can also be misused to create a fake property tax document that can be submitted for registration of properties, creating fake ID and address proofs.
Surprisingly, when asked about the precautionary measures taken by GHMC officials to avoid the misuse, additional commissioner (revenue) Shruti Ohja said that the civic body has put its “trust on the people” not to resort to such behaviour. Lachi Reddy suggested that officials take measures to ensure that the system is fool-proof to avoid disputes.

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