Builders in Pune Face Recovery Action as Rs 130 Crore Stamp Duty ‘Scam’ Unveiled

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Pune, 23rd December 2023: In a significant revelation, it has come to light that many builders in Pune have allegedly paid only Rs 130 crore in stamp duty over the last 30 years, understating the value of properties in a bid to circumvent rules. The Stamp Duty Department has been sending notices for several years, but recovery efforts have been slow.

The practice of paying lower stamp duty involved presenting manipulated registers to understate property values. However, the Stamp Duty Department detected these discrepancies during an audit, prompting efforts to recover the outstanding dues. Some of these cases date back 30 years, and if the tax remains unpaid despite notices, the department is prepared to take confiscation action.

Around 1995, most property transactions in Pune City were executed using stamp papers worth ten to twenty rupees. The Pune City Stamp Duty Department now asserts that stamp duty will be collected based on the actual property value at the time of these transactions, as the correct procedures were not followed. Despite repeated notices, many traders have evaded government revenue payments and penalties.

The Pune City Registration and Stamp Duty Department is actively sending notices to business entities involved in stamp duty evasion. Out of the total outstanding amount of Rs 130 crore, 66 cases involve sums exceeding one crore, while Pune City alone has 27 thousand cases with amounts below one crore. The department has announced that under the government’s ‘Abhay Yojana,’ if the fines in these cases are paid within the next few months, half of the total fine amount will be waived.

The identity of the individuals or entities involved in the 66 cases exceeding Rs 1 crore is currently undisclosed. Questions have arisen about the apparent inaction of the Pune City Registration and Stamp Duty Department over the years.

To encourage compliance, the government has granted citizens a four-month exemption from paying fines under the Abhay Yojana. The recovery plan aims to reclaim the entire Rs 130 crore within this period. Notices are being actively issued, and if the revenue, along with penalties, is not collected within four months, recovery will proceed by confiscating the assets of the defaulting entities. – Santosh Hingane, Joint District Registrar Class 1 and Collector of Stamps, Pune