CHENNAI: The city corporation has finally uploaded on its website the list of property tax defaulters in Chennai, five months after TOI came out with a news report, 'Malls, star hotels, govt among major property tax defaulters,' on March 31.
Initially, the civic body refused to provide the list of defaulters but was forced to do so after TOI filed an appeal under the RTI Act. A majority of the defaulters paid up their arrears after the news report was published and are not included in the new list.
According to www.chennaicorporation.gov.in/images/defaulters%20list.pdf, J Hotels Ltd in T Nagar (now Accord Metropolitan) is the biggest defaulter with 4.21 crore followed by Khivraj Tech Park in Guindy ( 2.99 crore), Ramee Mall ( 1.15 crore), Chennai Citi Centre ( 38.18 lakh), Empee Hotels Ltd ( 33.90 lakh) and CSI Diocese of Madras ( 23.60 lakh).
A corporation official said the list of the top 195 defaulters was available. "The remaining defaulters will also be updated soon. We hope this name and shame strategy will increase the tax collection." He said delay in disposal of cases under litigation was the major hindrance to recovering dues.
Sources say owners of several large buildings continue to undervalue their property tax commitment and pay lower tax to the corporation. Several government institutions, including CMDA, magistrate court complexes, police stations, housing board colonies, slum board tenements and Southern Railway, are defaulters.
Despite a law stipulating that property tax be revised once every five years, the corporation has not revised it since 1998, mainly due to political pressure.
In 2009, the corporation began uploading on its website the names of defaulters with arrears of more than 1 lakh, but soon discontinued the practice following 'pressure' from defaulters.
The number of taxpayers increased from 6.5 lakh to 10.82 lakh after expansion of the city but tax collection has not risen in tandem. Neither is a fine imposed for late payments nor is an incentive given for advance payments like is done by several civic bodies across the country.
Pune and Bangalore corporations offer 10% and 5% discount for those paying property tax before the deadline, while in Hyderabad, notices are served to those who haven't paid tax for more than three years and action initiated.