Kerala probes luxury tax evasion by marriage halls

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 10 (IANS) The Kerala government’s commercial taxes department has crated special squads to curb evasion of luxury tax by marriage halls in the state, an official said on Thursday.

Tax officials are expecting to rake in huge revenue through realisation of penalties from marriage halls that under-reported income from rent.

Interestingly, as a first step, the tax officials have begun collecting details of marriages registered with local bodies in the state.

A senior tax official, on the condition of anonymity, told IANS that special squads were taking down details of all marriages solemnised in the past three years in Kerala.

“As per the law, all marriages, irrespective of religion of spouses involved or wherever it is held, have to be registered with the local bodies like municipal corporation, municipality and gram panchayats.

“This makes our job easy, as marriage certificates contain all relevant details as to when and where the marriages were held. These details will be counter-checked against returns filed by marriage halls. If there is a discrepancy, a penalty will be levied on the erring marriage hall,” said the official.

A few years ago, the state government levied luxury tax on marriage halls in a bid to mobilise more revenue.

Three slabs of tax rates (10, 15 and 20 percent) are levied at present. Marriage halls charging a rent of over Rs.20,000 come under the 20 per cent tax bracket.

“We expect to plug all leaks (in revenue) and bring out under-declared rents,” the official said.

The commercial tax department expects to rake in close to Rs.30 crore by way of penalty.

Incidentally, the average rent of a marriage hall in big cities of Kerala now exceeds Rs.1 lakh per day.

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