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Discoms’ records to help MCD plug gaps in tax net | Latest News Delhi

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi plans to deploy the electricity consumer database to bring more properties under the tax net this year, senior officials said on Monday, adding that the city is estimated to have five times more number of electricity connections as property tax payers.

This year, the department collected around 2,137 crores as of March 31, with 1.26 million tax payers filing returns. (HT Photo)

All properties in the city, irrespective of use, need to pay the levy, which is determined by a number of factors, such as size, age, type of constructions and whether it is being rented. But many, especially in unauthorised colonies, do not pay it.

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“Electricity is a basic need and most properties have a connection. Power companies have data on property locations, allowing us to validate and cross-check taxpayers. The discoms have over 6.8 million users but MCD has only 1.3 million property tax payers. The gap is being bridged through a common database,” as official said, asking not to be named. The numbers include residential and commercial properties.

Officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the plan involves creating a common database with information from the city’s three power distribution companies, or discoms — BSES Yamuna, BSES Rajdhani, and Tata Power. Trial runs for the common database have been successful and the program is in the final stages of implementation.

Property tax is a key revenue stream for the cash-strapped MCD. This year, the department collected around 2,137 crores as of March 31, with 1.26 million tax payers filing returns. In 2022-23, the MCD collected around 2,417 crores from 1.33million taxpayers. The commissioner’s budget proposed a 4,300 crore property tax collection target for 2023-24.

While each power connection will almost invariably be linked to a single property but there could be some cases in which this would not be so. For instances, different units of a joint family living on different floors of a multistorey building may have their own connections while the property may still be registered as a single unit, often in the name of the head of a family.

But officials and resident welfare association (RWA) representative said the larger problem of evasion happens in unauthorised colonies, where civic utilities such as water and sewage too may be limited, deterring people from paying taxes even though they are legally mandated to under the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act.

HT reached out to the spokesperson for the discoms and the MCD mayor’s office. However, both did not responded to requests for comment.

A senior official said a large number of properties will be added to the tax rolls in coming months by merging power consumer and property tax payer data.

“When a property is sold, people change the meter connection. When a new building is constructed, electricity is sought. The database will be updated live and monthly, with new properties added to the tax rolls and issued demand notices,” the official said.

Under the DMC Act, property tax applies to all properties, including those in regularised unauthorised colonies, urban villages and vacant land.

Delhi’s economic survey shows electricity consumers increased from 4.46 million in 2012-13 to 6.85 million in 2022-23, with 84% domestic and 15% commercial users.

Initially, the MCD will look at all properties but in the second phase, it will segregate commercial taxpayers.

Atul Goyal, president of United RWAs Joint Action, welcomed using electricity data but said the system needs political will to enforce collection in unauthorised areas. “A small section cannot keep paying for the entire city. Categorisation of unauthorised colonies is lowest and tax would be minimal, but everyone should pay their fair share. Resistance is seen from politicians when notices are issued in such areas,” Goyal said, adding that payment can no longer be voluntary.

The second official cited above explained that the decision to use power connections data instead of water connections information was taken since there is a large number of illegal water connections in the city. “In case of electricity connections, the users’ interaction with the system is much more frequent and even temporary connections have to be ultimately converted into regular ones for long term use,” the official added.

The property tax department is also working to integrate the property registration data from the sub-registrar’s office but the project remains in trial phase. “The registrar office data merger is in trial phase but the power connection project is ready to be implemented. We will also merge the property geotagging data with this database,” the official added.

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