Bengal: Mamata Banerjee says tax department is misleading people on notices to Durga Puja committees
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday dismissed the Central Board of Direct Taxes’ claim that it had not issued any notice to Durga Puja committees this year. She said the statement was misleading, as the notices will come next year.
Banerjee referred to the “puja tax” for Durga Puja committees as “Puja jijia tax”, a reference to the “jijia” tax levied on non-Muslims in certain periods of Mughal India.
Banerjee claimed that “in the name of so-called Press Release”, the Central Board of Direct Taxes had made “certain claims which themselves prove that they are factually incorrect”. “CBDT clarification that no notices have been issued for this year makes little sense,” she wrote on Facebook. “It is only obvious that for pujas held this year, notices will only be issued next year, which is as per their scheme of tax assessment. So, the clarification itself proves that the imposition of tax very much stands. Then, why misleading?”
Urging the CBDT not to levy any taxes, the West Bengal chief minister said Durga Puja was like a national festival celebrated by people of all religions, castes and creeds. “My humble submission and appeal to the authorities would be not to impose such tax or TDS or ‘Jijia’ tax on any puja committees or any festival,” she added.
Earlier in the day, the Central Board of Direct Taxes denied issuing notices to Durga Puja committees or the Durga Puja Committee Forum in Kolkata this year. The board’s clarification came hours after the Trinamool Congress staged a dharna at Subodh Mallik Square in Kolkata accusing the Centre of sending income tax notices to the Durga Puja committees to intimidate them.
“It is unequivocally stated that the reports are factually incorrect and are strongly denied,” the CBDT said in a statement. The board, however, added that it had sent notices to 30 committees in December 2018 after being apprised that several contractors were not paying due taxes.