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Punjab to impose property tax on all vacant plots

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LAHORE: The government of Punjab has decided to enforce property tax on all vacant plots across the province, officials say.

The Punjab Excise and Taxation (E&T) Department has already completed surveys in major cities including Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Gujranwala and identified about 250,000 vacant plots that will come under the property tax net.

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Estimates suggest the government will collect a revenue of at least Rs150 million from owners of these plots in the current fiscal year.

The tax will be imposed on all residential and commercial plots lying vacant for the past two years. Property owners will have to pay annually Rs1,500 on five-marla (125-square-yard) plots, Rs3,100 on 10-marla (250-square-yard) plots and Rs7,000 on one-kanal (500-square-yard) plots.

Plots located in all government and private housing societies and areas falling within the jurisdiction of the E&T Department, except for cantonment areas, will come under the tax net.

E&T Department Director General Akram Ashraf Gondal said it was not a new tax, but was an extension of the existing property tax regime.

“The Punjab government has introduced this tax through the Punjab Finance Act 2016 in the current fiscal year’s budget but the department wants to enforce it after a comprehensive survey,” he said, adding now the survey had been completed in most areas and the department was ready to initiate revenue collection.

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Though the law had a provision for the imposition of property tax on vacant plots, it was the government’s policy decision earlier not to collect the tax, he said. However, now the province has decided to collect the tax from vacant plots.

Punjab E&T Minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman told The Express Tribune that the tax on vacant plots would discourage investors in the realty market and encourage genuine buyers to build houses on their plots.

In the current fiscal year, he said, the provincial government would collect over Rs9.6 billion in property tax through all sources, including Rs150 million from vacant plots. In the previous year, it had collected Rs8.1 billion.

Rehman insisted that the tax would not impact the common man as it would be collected from investors who had invested in the realty market and were making money.

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