Rajinikanth appeals to TN govt to remove local body tax

RSTV Bureau

Tamil Superstar Rajinikanth came out in support of theatre owners in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday and made an appeal to the government to remove the 30% local body tax levied in addition to the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Earlier, Kamal Hassan had also supported theatre owners in their fight against the tax.

Superstar Rajinikanth addresses after casting his vote during the South Indian Artists Association's SIAA Election in Chennai on October 18.  File Photo-PTI

Superstar Rajinikanth addresses after casting his vote during the South Indian Artists Association’s SIAA Election in Chennai on October 18.
File Photo-PTI

Owners of more than 1,000 cinema halls have stopped screening films due to the stand-off between the government and the theatre owners.

The theatre owners have been on strike since June 30, the eve of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout. The exhibitors have shut their halls since then citing their ‘inability’ to pay both taxes.

Security personnel sitting near the ticket counter of a cinema in Chennai on Monday. Around 1,100 theatres in Tamil Nadu have stopped screening of films to protest the state government's decision to impose a 30% local body tax apart from additional tariffs under the new GST regime.

Security personnel sitting near the ticket counter of a cinema in Chennai on Monday. Around 1,100 theatres in Tamil Nadu have stopped screening of films to protest the state government’s decision to impose a 30% local body tax apart from additional tariffs under the new GST regime.

Besides the local tax, a GST of 18 per cent has been fixed for tickets priced below Rs 100 and 28 per cent for those above Rs 100.

“We are against the Corporation (entertainment) Tax which is 30 per cent. This is in addition to the GST rates (of upto 28 per cent). We are not against the GST. We welcome it,” Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners and Distributors Association President Abhirami Ramanathan had said.

Opposition DMK has raised the matter in the state Assembly and said enormous amount of money was at stake. Congress Legislature Party leader K R Ramasamy also raised the issue.

“They (Cinema industry representatives) had met the Chief Minister (K Palaniswami), but still theatres are shut. Why,” DMK Leader Durai Murugan questioned.

Kamal-Hassan

Kamal Hassan at a press meet in Chennai

The issue has also been raised by veteran actor Kamal Haasan who hit out at the state government for not backing the “already beleaguered” film industry.

“Neighbouring states like Kerala and Karnataka have totally desisted from levying anymore state tax on cinema over and above GST.  It is only the Tamil Nadu government that has brought entertainment tax to 30%,” Kamal Hassan said.

Representatives of the association and others, including South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, South Indian Artistes’ Association (SIAA) and Tamil Film Producers Council, had met CM Palaniswami and State Finance Minister D Jayakumar over the tax issue.