Mamata lashes out at CBDT for distorting facts

Kolkata, Aug 13 : Accusing the Central Board of Direct Taxes of making “factually incorrect” claims and resorting to “sheer distortion of facts” with regard to issuing notices to Durga Puja committees in her state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday demanded that it desist from levying taxes from the puja committees.

Banerjee made the remarks in a Facebook post after the CBDT came out with a press release “strongly denying” claims that Income Tax notice were recently issued to the prominent Durga Puja committees in Kolkata.

Terming the reports of IT notice being recently issued to the Durga Puja Committee Forum in the city, as “factually incorrect”, the CBDT said the notice was issued to the forum on December last year calling for details of tax deducted at source (TDS) on payments made to the contractors and event managers by the puja committees.

Banerjee responded with a hard-hitting post alleging that the press release was issued to “create confusion” in the minds of the people and puja committees.

“I have come to know just now that CBDT has issued a press release clarifying notices to Durga puja committees for puja tax, which is popularly known as ‘Puja Jijia Tax’.

I would like to share with all of you that in the name of so-called press release, they have made certain claims which themselves prove that they are factually incorrect,” she said.

Banerjee said Income Tax authorities had sent notices to Puja committees last year regarding event management including ‘Dhaki’, ‘Purohit’ — small and village artisans engaged in arts and crafts working in pandals — “for collecting tax from them through puja committees by way of TDS, which is as good as ‘Terrible Disaster Scheme'”.

Banerjee said it put a huge burden on the Durga puja committees.

“CBDT clarification that no notices have been issued for this year makes little sense. 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.”

She dismissed the press release a “sheer distortion of facts with an aim to create confusion in the minds of local people and puja committees and perpetrate mental tension.”

“This is also an attack on our culture and on our Durga Puja festival. I do not know whether this is being done knowingly or unknowingly, but it is certainly in bad taste, especially when people of all religions, caste, creed participate in our Durga Puja, which is just like a national festival.

“Any such taxation should be totally withdrawn and the festival should be allowed to be celebrated with its usual fervour. 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.

/IANS

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