GANGTOK, 07 Feb: The chief minister, Pawan Chamling, has asked the central government to suspend the issuing of income tax notices to members of the business community. Sources inform that in a letter to the Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee the Sikkim Chief Minister has requested that such processes be kept in abeyance as the matter of income tax exemption for the left out communities in the state is under consideration. He has further sought, in his letter, that the matter of exempting the Left Out communities from paying central income tax be kindly considered and the grievances of the Old Settlers favourably considered for exemption.
The Business community of the state have been upping the ante as far as their protests against their non exemption from paying income tax is concerned. Both the central government as well as the state government have been approached with petitions and with the Income Tax Office here in Gangtok issuing notices for tax returns on a regular basis the community members also approached the Chief Minister with their cause.
The letter of the chief minister is informed to have been submitted to the Finance Minister during the former’s visit to New Delhi in January this year. The CM, it is informed, has sought that as the matter is under due consideration of the government of india, that all proceedings initiated by Income Tax authorities as per due process of law may kindly be kept in abeyance, till a final decision is arrived at.
It needs to be mentioned here that members of the left out communities are regularly served notices by the Income Tax officer here in Gangtok and at the behest of the Income Tax office, Siliguri. The notices come with the warning that should the fail to file their returns proceedings will be initiated against them as per law.
While the state government has got exemption from paying central income tax for Sikkim Subject holders the old business community have not been exempted. In his communiqué, the chief minister has highlighted that there are about 400 families of old settlers residing here for long who have been continuously representing before the state and the union government pleading for their inclusion in the scheme of exemption on grounds of having settled in the state before the promulgation of Sikkim Subject Regulation, 1961. The chief minister has also stated that the state government has constituted a committee for examining the matter and that having been satisfied on their petitions passed a resolution in the SLA recommending their inclusion for exemption from paying central income tax.
The Finance Minister, it is informed, had responded, as he did in the Rajya Sabha a few weeks ago, saying that the matter is under due consideration of the central government.