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August 26, 2008

Landlord: I will not pay tax

Filed under: social change — neosurya @ 04:36

I have been looking for apartments for the past week. Santosh had been showing me a few, and I had short-listed some options.

There was an owner whose house I really liked, but we were still haggling over the rent. I nevertheless give him my lease papers, ask him to fill it up over the weekend. I call my landlord on Sat to discuss the rent, and he tells me very reluctantly, “Sorry Surya for going back on our word, but it seems that my mother-in-law cannot give you her PAN card number”. I am like “Hmmm – OK, I will enquire with my office whether they need PAN card; they should let me know by tomorrow for sure”. “No Surya, I will need to know before 4:00 PM”. At around 2:30 PM on Sunday; there was no way anyone in my office would be around to give an official answer. I enquired around with a few friends in the same position, and am told that the companies do not ask for landlord’s PAN card. I call X back within half-an-hour and tell him “I have asked my colleagues and they did not need a PAN card”. This was wrong; I should have stuck to my stand that my office will tell me only the next day. I was ignoring the obvious – no matter what my friends say, my case could elicit a totally different response from the office. At the office the next day, I find out that of late, HP has made PAN cards mandatory for lease processing. Folks avoid paying tax totally by not giving their PAN cards. I was expecting some form of evasion among landlords, but the extent and lack of awareness/acceptance that it is a crime was slightly surprising. Think of a dude who has 40 plots all around Bangalore, and he never submits a PAN card number while giving out rental accommodation. He is making a TON of money and not reporting shit in income tax.

Mr. X is a really nice guy; if you talk to him you would know he is very reasonable. It is very likely that 16.99% tax deduction at source is a significant hit on their income. It is very likely that his mother-in-law has only that property, and that is her only source of income. Just then, I had a glorious revelation; if this were the case, she would get back all her money after filing for tax returns. All 16.99% of it would be given back to her; she will not lose any income. I could have explained all this to X; I discussed this at length with my folks, wife, and in-laws. Dad tells me that we file taxes for each piece of land, even the one in Ongole that we have not seen for the past few years. Mom says that it is likely several landlords will not agree to give me their PAN numbers and I will never get a reasonable apartment in my life. Dad disagrees.

I call Mr. X and tell him “Sorry sir, my office has asked me for a PAN card”. He is deeply shocked, understandably so – I should not have told him otherwise the previous afternoon. He mutters some discontent towards me, but I cannot help it. I am undecided now. I could pay him the entire 1.5 lakh security deposit out of pocket and take his house. He (Or rather, his mother-in-law) will in all likelihood not pay any tax. In all likelihood, several other landlords do not pay tax. Yes, our governance sucks, but we suck equally hard. If there were a contest in lollipop eating (Or a more raunchy contest based on ones’ ability to suck), the Govt. would come up toppers, but Indian citizenry would not be far behind.

I should probably send a letter to each landlord I know, urging him/her to file property taxes correctly. I will definitely write to Mr. X after I settle in. But how many different topics will I need to write about, and to how many people, to say that citizenship of a country comes with its rights. The right to being on a road has the responsibility to obey traffic. The right to own a house has the responsibility to obey housing law. The right to shit comes with the responsiblity to clean up after. If you do not meet your responsibilities, sooner or later your backside will not be very pleasent :). Light banter aside, this is precisely what is happening; Indian citizenry are being increasingly penny wise and pound foolish.


1 Comment »

  1. My husband is being very righteous here !!! But iam sure we will find an apt which abides by the rules.

    Comment by Jyostna — August 29, 2008 @ 03:43

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