Indian drummers expose Bangalore tax avoiders

Bangalore's 'tax drummers' The 'tax drum' tactic has been described as crude but effective (Photo: K Venkatesh)

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The authorities in the Indian city of Bangalore are literally on a roll when it comes to recovering property taxes from long-standing defaulters.

They have deployed a group of workers to drum outside the homes and offices of people who have not paid taxes.

The aim is to shame defaulters into paying the dues that they owe.

Corporation officials said that they were using this unconventional and noisy method to recover taxes that have not been paid for years.

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The more the noise, the more the embarrassment for the owner”

End Quote Bangalore official

They say that taxes owed to the city corporation amount to nearly $40m (£25m).

"The taxes recovered will be used to help provide better civic amenities in the city," corporation Commissioner Siddaiah told the BBC.

Already a group of drum beaters has been seen in action outside office premises rented out by a multinational company.

The owner is alleged not to have paid taxes for more than three years.

"We made enough noise outside to draw the public's attention," Mr Siddaiah said.

"The more the noise, the more the embarrassment for the owner as well as their tenants," said one official.

"In a way, this is shock treatment."

'Crude but efffective'

Officials say routine notices that were sent out have been largely ignored by defaulters.

At a one upmarket home in the central district of Bangalore, the drummers were in action for more than an hour.

The agitated house owner rushed out to confront them but it did not stop them from performing.

It is alleged that the defaulter owed the corporation thousands of dollars in back taxes.

"I thought at first that it was a roadside drama happening. It is in a way a very crude method but I guess it will be effective," said Ms Nalini, a passerby.

Officials warned that if defaulters continued to evade their responsibilities, the corporation will be forced to seal off their properties.

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