In West Bengal, the party accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government of sending out income-tax notices to Durga Puja committees. It has been said that over 350 Durga puja committees had received the I-T notices last month. Expressing anger over the matter, Banga Janani Vahini (BJV), an arm of the Trinamool Congress, demonstrated a dharna in central Kolkata to protest the move.
Durga Puja festival is slated to be celebrated between October 4 and October 8.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also took to Twitter for criticizing the move. She said that Durga Puja festivals are for everyone and any puja festival should not be taxed at all. She also protested demanding the abolition of Durga Puja tax.
I have come to know just now that CBDT has issued a Press Release clarifying regarding notices to Durga Puja Committees for puja tax, which is popularly known as ‘Puja Jijia Tax’.
Here is my Facebook post pic.twitter.com/DSMjNUDnyF
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) August 13, 2019
Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, a Lok Sabha MP and chief of the Banga Janani Vahini (BJV), while speaking to the media, said, “We think the I-T letter to various Puja committees is an attack on the biggest festivities and emotion of the Bengalis, who wait for the entire year for Durga Puja. Our demonstration is to protest the actions of the Centre.”
IT department has responded that they did not ask Puja committees to pay any kind of tax. Manas Mondal, deputy director of income tax (investigation), Kolkata told that the department only asked them to deduct 1% TDS for payments above Rs 30,000 to those whom various contracts (for idol making, pandal theme ideation, and execution, etc.) are awarded. The department also said that if their income is not taxable, they will be able to claim a refund.
Giving another angle to the story, Partha Ghosh, president of Forum for Durgotsab, an umbrella body of 353 Puja committee in Kolkata, also said that it is wrong to say that organizers were asked to pay taxes. He said that they are just asked to inform the IT department about payments of Rs 30,000 or above made to any person or company. This will help the department in investigating the recipients of the money.