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Holding tax hike protested

Some corp officials allegedly demand bribe to rationalize tax: Punitive action to be taken if allegation proves true, says Mayor Khokon

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13th-Oct-2017       
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Anisul Islam Noor :
Household owners in many areas of Dhaka city have complained that the City Corporation officials raised holding tax even 11 times causing much harassment to them.
The Dhaka South and North City Corporations have recently revised the holding tax applicable for house owners resulting in a serious mismatch in assessment, they alleged.
The house owners also alleged that a section of officials demanding bribe to 'rationalise' their holding tax after they made the upward revision.
Baset Mia, a house owner in Mugdha, paid holding tax amounting to Tk 9,200 during the last fiscal year.
"Dhaka South City Corporation, in a letter dated 2 September, asked me to pay Tk 98,260 for this fiscal year," Baset told this correspondent.
He said their house was built in 1976. The city officials made an assessment of their house based on their assumption, not any survey, he pointed out. "Holding tax of my house has been raised 11 times."
The holding tax for house no142/4 at Provatibagh of Khilgaon was fixed earlier at Tk 4,800, but it has been recently been raised to Tk 32,000, according to the house owner Monirul Islam, who lives in the two-storey house on two decimals of land.
The amount of tax for historic 'Queen Building' in that area was Tk 3,500. It was raised to Tk 15,000 in 2015 and suddenly made Tk 90,000 this year.
After 28 years, Dhaka's two city corporations are now revising the holding tax amounts to adjust the rates between the newly built houses and old ones and also generate more revenue.
Calling the revised tax amounts as higher than rational, some house owners have alleged that the city corporation officials are fixing higher tax with their ill motives.
Some tenants have expressed apprehensions that the house owners might raise rents if the holding tax is abruptly raised. The holding tax of old houses has not been revised since 1989, according to officials at the two city corporations. The revenue department of the city corporations said the holding tax is being fixed between Tk 4 and Tk 15 per square feet in the South and Tk 4 to Tk 18 in the North. In the 1990s, the holding tax was between Tk 1.30 and Tk 3 per square feet.
The latest move to revise tax began on 8 August and the process is expected to complete by December next.
Once the new rates come into effect, the two city corporations will earn revenue amounting to about Tk 10 billion, more than double the current amount of Tk 4.62 billion.
The house owners of Road-4 in Dhanmondi Residential Area have paid Tk 15,000 each to certain city corporation officials to reduce the enhanced holding tax amount, they claimed.
When contacted, Dhaka South Mayor Mohammad Sayeed Khokon said, "Punitive action will be taken if the allegations are proved to be true."
Dhaka North Mayor Annisul Huq could not be contacted as he currently is staying abroad.
Chairman of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Ghulam Rahman said the revision of holding tax will create certain pressure on the house owners.
He insisted that the city corporations should rather take steps to address corruption and inefficiency at the two city corporations.
There are a total of 373,000 houses in the areas under jurisdiction of the two city corporations, according to official records. Of them, some 2,15,000 houses are in the North and 1,58,000 in the South.
Dhaka South has completed revision of holding tax in almost 90 per cent of its areas of command -- Dhanmondi, Kalabagan, Green Road, Elephant Road, Hatirpool, Kathalbagan, Motijheel, Khilgaon, Shantinagar, Malibagh and Naya Paltan.
Dhaka North has so far completed revising holding tax in Uttara, Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, Mahakhali (Zone 1 and 2). The city authorities have partially completed revision of tax in greater Mirpur, Karwan Bazar, Lalmatia and Mohammadpur. And the process is going on in the rest of the areas, sources said.

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