About 40 percent of the people living in prime areas such as Banjara Hills, Madhapur, Jubilee Hills default in the payment of taxes, while over 90 percent of the middle and lower classes clear their property tax dues.

Through a preliminary survey, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has identified 13 circles where people are highly likely to evade property taxes.

According to the official data, the 13 circles have the potential to collect about Rs 1,200 crore in all, per year, but in the financial year 2016-17 they only collected Rs 814.09 crore or 66.14 percent of the property tax owed. Highly-placed sources in the corporation claim that the civic body has been ignoring the rich and targeting the middle and lower classes with respect to the collection of property taxes.

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17 circles within the GHMC limits contribute only Rs 200 crore annually towards the revenue generated in the form of property tax, while the remaining 13 circles contribute Rs1,200 crore. In previous years, the corporation has managed to collect about 90 percent of the property taxes owed by small defaulters but only 60 percent of the taxes owed by major defaulters. Sources claim that if the corporation focuses on these major defaulters, it can potentially collect Rs1,500 crore annually.

When asked about the subject, a senior GHMC official said the civic body had not been able to achieve its targets due to a staff crunch at the field level. He added that the corporation had deployed additional staff to collect more revenue from circles with high potential. He said that some of the existing bill-collectors were hand-in-glove with the major defaulters, and so they were misguiding the newly-deployed staff.

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The corporation has managed to collect Rs 52.79 crore from 13 circles in the month of January and Rs 10.7 crore so far this month. The official said that the targeted collection for the 2017-18 financial year was Rs 1,017.62 crore, of which the corporation had managed to collect Rs 673.07 crore from 13 circles – Hayathnagar, LB Nagar, Saroornagar, Malakpet, Goshamahal, Amberpet, Khairatabad, Jubilee Hills, Serilingampally, Chandanagar, Moosapet, Kukatpally and Begumpet.

When asked whether the corporation was targeting the middle class, the official said, “The corporation has not been targeting them; rather, they have been making payment on time out of fear of penalties.” #KhabarLive

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