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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Monday, 04 March 2024 7.46 PM IST

Revenue Department imposes additional stamp duty on property transactions; Owners under scrutiny

editorial

Numerous crores have flowed into the exchequer from property owners due to land reclassification, with ongoing collections. More than a lakh applications are pending, and a new initiative by the registration department seeks additional stamp duty from long-standing land transactions.

Landlords repeatedly received notices for understating prices during transactions, leading to payments as stipulated. Initially targeting undervalued land, this effort ended up demanding excessive payments from many.

The state-wide registration department intensifies pressure on landowners, threatening revenue recovery if the stated amount in the notice isn't paid within the set period. Even owners with small 5 to 10 cent plots are receiving hefty demands, some reaching tens of thousands of rupees. Transactions from 30 to 35 years ago are now under scrutiny, causing confusion regarding additional stamp duty obligations in transactions preceding fair land value regulations.

Instances of land changing hands numerous times over three decades raise questions about who bears responsibility for the extra stamp duty. Property owners receiving notices are expected to pay dues based on the difference between recorded and district-registrar-certified prices during land registration. Redressal avenues exist, but lodging a case demands depositing 25 percent of the newly determined dues upfront, with potential reimbursement if the case concludes favorably. Conversely, a loss in the case necessitates paying the remaining sum.

The government-fixed fair land value, impacting stamp duty during land sales, adds to the burden. In a state with sky-high land prices, common citizens purchasing land for homes are faced with steep costs.

The registration department's scrutiny spans land transfers since 1986, leading to demands for additional payments due to undervaluation. Examining land records from such distant periods is ensnaring tens of thousands of property owners resulting in hefty fines funneling into the exchequer.

Viewing property transactions as a revenue-raising tool is a source of distress, particularly for small landowners. Widespread complaints have emerged against the registration department's latest actions, prompting talks about a potential settlement commission system to replace revenue recovery. The hope is for a system favorable to ordinary landowners.

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