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Adlabs Drags Taxman to Court over GST Incentive Extension

Adlabs Entertainment has approached the Bombay High Court over extension of Goods and Services Tax (GST) incentives for the period of lockdown due to the pandemic.

The company, in a write petition filed with the court, said that its water and theme parks remained shut during 2020 and 2021 due to forced lockdown by the government. This period, therefore, should be exclude from the tax holiday and the exemption period extended by the number of lockdown days.

Legal experts say that the court’s ruling in the matter will give clarity to several other companies that are also seeking extension to certain government schemes.

“GST is a great symbol of cooperative federalism and both the central government and the state government will have to come up together to honour the incentives promised to the business entities prior to implementation of GST,” said Abhishek A Rastogi, partner at law firm Khaitan.

The court has asked the government and the tax department to respond to the write petition.

“While the state government may have fulfilled part of its duty, the central government will have to either give the remaining part of the share or recommend an extension of the eligibility period,” said Rastogi, who is representing Adlabs.

The company in its write petition has sought that it be granted an “up-front exemption from 100% of GST leviable on sale of the goods to the Theme Park and Water Park adopted by the petitioner at Khalapur and also seeks refund of the GST already paid by the petitioner till date.”

This is not the first-time theatres and multiplexes have approached the courts over indirect tax due to Covid pandemic and lockdowns.

Many multiplexes had approached courts after various state governments that had extended tax and other sops to the industry to get investments in their respective states are now seeking them back, citing breach of contract.

States like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had offered these sops, which included a waiver of entertainment tax for up to five years.

Tax experts say that the incentives with respect to entertainment tax were given on the condition that the multiplex theatres would continue for a period of five years from the end of the exemption period. However, due to Covid-19 induced lockdown, many multiplexes could complete five years of operations.

Although they have shown the intent to continue the businesses once the environment is conducive to exhibit movies, some of the state governments have now started the recovery process and even issued notices in some instances. S-ET

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