20 Eunuchs to Collect Taxes in India
Friday, November 10, 2006 12:31 AM EST
The Associated Press
PATNA, India (AP) — One cash-strapped Indian city has launched a unique collection service to dislodge payment from tax deadbeats: Door-to-door eunuchs.
Eunuchs — a term used in India to describe transvestites, postoperative transsexuals and hermaphrodites — traditionally make a living on tips for dancing at weddings or for blessing newborns. They frequently refuse to leave until they are given money.
Patna, the capital of Bihar state in eastern India, hired scores of them Wednesday to compel shop owners to pay their back taxes.
"We are confident that their reputation and persuasive skills will come in handy for the municipal authorities to collect taxes from defaulters," said Bharat Sharma, a revenue officer.
Only 2,000 of nearly a half-million people have been paying property tax and water supply charges to Patna's municipal authorities, and tax collection is less than one-third of a projected tax base of $15 million, said Atul Prasad, the municipal administrator.
Dancing and singing to the beat of drums and wearing bright saris, the eunuchs met with success in their new role Wednesday. They collected about $9,000 in cash and checks from shop owners in the city, Sharma said.
The eunuchs get 4 percent of what they collect from defaulters, and will soon be asked to help collect outstanding taxes from homeowners, Prasad said.