Activists cry foul against Maharashtra’s limited period stamp duty relief
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To provide the much-needed fillip to the realty sector and some relief to the common man, the state government recently provided concession on stamp duty for a limited period. However, many activists are unhappy with the “limited period” concession on stamp duty. “The decision seems to be more of a builder-friendly measure. If the state wants to benefit the home buyers then the relaxation on stamp duty should be made permanent. The state should also help stuck realty projects to revive,” opined Godfrey Pimenta, a Bombay High court advocate-cum activist.

Pimenta said there are several projects which are stuck and may take a few more years to complete. Homebuyers of such projects may not benefit from the stamp duty relaxation which is for a limited period only.

Jayesh Rathod, executive director, The Guardians Real Estate Advisory, commented, “The temporary reduction in stamp duty charges has been announced to increase government revenue and stimulate economic activity. The stamp duty charges make for a substantial share of the state governments revenue and on the other side results in direct savings for customers. There have been instances when stamp duty charges were increased to fund infrastructure projects. If such reductions are made retrospective it is bound to lead to massive losses to the government and the same in such times would be difficult for the state to absorb."

Anuj Puri, Chairman - ANAROCK Property Consultants said: "While the stamp duty cut, that too for a limited period, is definitely not a panacea to cure all the sector's woes, it is nevertheless a boost during the sensitive festive period which traditionally sees a big uptick in housing sales. Stamp duty charges are a major cost in expensive cities like Mumbai, and their reduction has been a long-standing demand by the industry."

Activist Anil Galgali questioned why the state government was imposing stamp duty on homebuyers when they are already paying the GST. "GST is a single tax on the supply of goods and services, right from the manufacturer to the consumer. The idea of introducing GST was to have one tax rate in the entire country. Hence, stamp duty from homebuyers should be scrapped."

The state government has recently announced relaxation on the stamp duty from 5 per cent to 2 per cent up to December 2020 and 3 per cent up to March 2021. This relaxation is believed to provide a major relief to the ailing real estate sector as sale of houses has decreased.

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