Tax dues of around 131 units of KSRTC bus terminal complex at Thampanoor go above Rs 1 crore. The main building of the government secretariat owes the corporation Rs 56 lakhs between 2016-17 and 2021-22. Ten other units under the secretariat also record dues around Rs 20 lakhs in past five fiscals.
Cash strapped Thiruvananthapuram Development Authority (TRIDA) seems to top the tax defaulter list. TRIDA’s due to corporation for a single building in Palayam is Rs 1.58 crores.
Around 295 units under TRIDA owe corporation tax dues between Rs 10,000 and Rs 3 lakhs. Nearly 100 buildings owned by TRIDA owe the corporation tax dues well over Rs 10 lakhs as it is the top defaulter of tax dues as per the list made available for the Medical college area.
Corporation authorities hinted that fresh notices will be served to all these buildings after the mandatory time-period of filing appeal against the dues is over. In 2019, the city corporation prepared the list of tax defaulters among government buildings following re-assessment of all the state government buildings in the city as part of issuing fresh demand notices under new tax regime. The process had posed challenges for the revenue wing as they came across government buildings which had not received building numbers for decades.
Under the new tax regime, office buildings are assessed at a rate of Rs 80 per sq.m Over 700 buildings and around 1,000 building numbers were identified by the revenue wing in 49 wards in 2019. The arrears of government buildings in terms of property tax had swelled to Rs 50 crores as per corporation estimates. Four wards in the city have over 30 government buildings. TRIDA, KWA and SAP were found to own the highest number of buildings in various wards.
Central government buildings which had defaulted on service charges were also listed in 2019. As per the norms, 75% of property tax shall be levied as service charge from central government buildings. The corporation council had earlier considered the pending arrears from the central government buildings; however, many of these arrears had to be written off as it was calculated over four decades or more.
The revenue wing had earlier carried out an inspection of the central government buildings following an audit report which slammed the corporation for not identifying the buildings owned by the central government and for not having an exhaustive list of such buildings.
In a communication sent to the corporation, the audit department invoked section 235 of Kerala Municipality Act which says that in the case of properties exempted from property tax, the corporation is entitled to claim the cost of services covered by service taxes.