Following uproar in social media that the Good s and services tax (GST) rolled out on July 1, 2017 was against the interests of temple trusts as taxes them heavily while obliterating the presence of Waqf Boards and Churches, the government has clarified that there is no such religious bais in GST.
“There are some messages going around in the social media stating that the temple trusts have to pay the GST while the churches and mosques are exempt. This is completely untrue because no distinction is made in the GST Law on any provision based on religion. We request to people not to start circulating such wrong messages on social media,” said the government in a statement.
Ironic but the ministry did not clarify whether Hindu temples, Sikh Gurudwaras, Mosques and Churches are expemted from GST for the services, especially for free food to pilgrims they provide. Secondly, the GST is silent on temple trusts or boards whose income was in the past exempted in several forms.
Otherwise, GST clearly states that Puja Samagri is exempt from taxation. The provision in GST reads:”Puja samagri including havan samagri will be under the Nil category. However, exact formulation for the same is yet to be finalized.” Taxation on temple trusts, waqf boards and churches will be finalized by the ministry soon.
The government has rolled out the GST from July 1 with a view to introduce uniform indirect taxation system throughout the country, while concessions are given to States in certain areas like entertainment tax that has led to closure of cinema theatres in Tamil Nadu.