Indias Taxes Help Government Acquire More Land

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July 11 – As incomes soar in a booming India, the government has collected an unprecedented amount of direct tax – Rs 3,14,000 crore (US$73 billion) last fiscal – more than they know what to do with. In a bid to invest their money prudently, the Income tax department will capitalise on the slump in India's real estate sector.

Deals have been struck for several prime plots of land and office space in many cities across the country worth millions of rupees. The emphasis is, however, on acquiring centrally air-conditioned buildings that are Wi-Fi enabled, fitted with state-of-the-art security systems and plush reception with a lounge-kind of open space, the Times of India reported.

It has already purchased an office in BCC Plaza at Pushp Vihar in Saket, situated in South Delhi at a cost of Rs 145 crore. Recently, it acquired three floors – 8th, 28th and 29th – at World Trade Centre at Cuffe Parade in Mumbai paying Rs 80 crore from its burgeoning kitty.

Sources said the I-T department is constructing a similar campus at Jalahalli in Bangalore which will be centrally air-conditioned with Wi-Fi and a surveillance system having access control method. The green campus would have solar street lighting and solar water heater for its hostel block and is estimated to cost the department a measly Rs 25 crore.

Now, even smaller cities like Guwahati and Cuttack would have state-of-the-art buildings. Centrally air-conditioned offices at Guwahati and Cuttack would come up at a cost of Rs 16 crore and Rs 10 crore, respectively. This year, the department had purchased 1.16 acres of land at Erode, under Chennai jurisdiction, for a sum of Rs 6.79 crore while 10 kanals in Jammu had come at a cost of Rs 6.37 crore.

Besides the new acquisition, the government has decided to be generous on improving the infrastructure at the existing range offices across the country. It has already has spent Rs 40 lakh per range at more than 600 range offices for upgradation of facilities, including modern furniture and well done up interiors. The taxmen have been duly rewarded for the windfall tax collection made in the last few years which have grown by more than 40%.

All officers of the rank of ITO and above have been rewarded with a laptop. So far sanctions have come for 8,900 laptops and these will be delivered by August 31, 2008.

The department has also hired 20 AC buses at eight metro cities to ferry its staff besides creating a modern eatery at more than 20 stations. Special emphasis is, however, on interpersonal skill development of personnel who will have an interface with the taxpayer.