Bengaluru: Tax collection at the gram panchayat (GP) level has increased by almost fivefold over the past three fiscal years; from Rs 100 crore in 2015-16 to nearly Rs 500 crore in 2018-19.

Tax collection at GP level is important for self-reliance, according to rural development and panchayat raj president LK Atheeq. He also reportedly said that the government’s initiative to place strong emphasis on tax collection by spreading awareness have started to show results. Setting challenging targets for officials have also reportedly impacted tax collection.

GPs in the coastal districts of Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts which have the highest literacy rate, recorded 100% tax collection. Meanwhile, the most backward districts in Hyderabad-Karnataka region recorded the lowest tax collection.

High tax collection has been recorded in the GPs of the Malnad districts of Kodagu, Shivamogga, Chikkamagaluru, Bengaluru urban, Bengaluru rural and Kolar districts. These regions also have high literacy rates. According to department records, tax collection in these regions is between 90% to 97%.

Efforts from panchayat officials and a change in the mindset of people were reportedly major contributing factors to the high tax collection seen in these areas. People in rural areas were earlier indifferent to paying taxes as they felt that no one would question the evasion, the convenor of a rural development organisation, N Rajagopal reportedly said. He stated that the change in attitude has been seen after they realised that if they pay taxes on time, their villages will be developed further.

Awareness programs by panchayat raj officials, frequent calls by public representatives urging villagers to pay taxes and continuous monitoring have also helped GPs achieve a record collection, reports stated.