Income Tax office to be set up by Aug 6

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Gangtok, Jul 24 (UNI) Marking the beginning of an era of 'Direct Taxes' in Sikkim 33 years after the erstwhile Himalayan kingdom joined the Indian Union, the Central Income Tax office will be set up in the state by August 6.

''The Income Tax office will be set up by August 6 in Sikkim,'' said Finance Secretary T T Dorjee during a workshop on Direct Taxes held here today.

The workshop had been organised by the state government to enable its officials grasp the provisions of Income Tax Act 1961 that was implemented in the state following an amendment in the Act during the Finance Bill presented by Union Finance Ministry P Chidambaram earlier this year.

People of Sikkimese origin having Sikkim subjects or Certificate of Identification have been exempted from Direct Taxes as per the 26AA clause paving way for the Act to be enforced in the state.

The Act had been extended in the state but had not been enforced due to stiff opposition from the locals and the state government.

Following the exemption to Sikkimese people, the state government withdrew its own Income Tax provisions of Sikkim Income Tax Manuel Act of 1948.

Today's workshop was conducted by a chartered accounting firm based in West Bengal to clear doubts about the Central Act among the local administration.

''It will not be difficult to apply this Act. Its just a matter of time to get used to it,'' said the Finance Secretary.

Now, taxes will be deducted from non-Sikkimese people residing in the state as per the Central Act.

This has triggered resentment among the local business community which do not have the Sikkim subjects or Certificate of Identifications though they had been living in the state for generations.

Around 400 families of the old business community will be affected by this Act and they have pinned their final hopes on Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.

Under the banner of 'Old Businessmen of Sikkim', the community has approached the Chief Minister to recommend their case to the Union government to include old business community of Sikkim for exemption of Central Income Tax.

''We requested the Chief Minister to give strength to this cause by bringing a suitable resolution in the coming session of Sikkim Assembly,'' said S K Sarda, convener of the body.

The Assembly session is scheduled on July 28.

Though the old business community asserted that they don't mind paying taxes to the Central government, it said the present exemption for only Sikkim subject holders or those having Certificate of Identification is 'discriminatory' to those residing in the state for generations.

The community has demanded they be covered for exemption under the Ladakh model where people living in Ladakh are exempted from paying direct taxes as per clause 26AA of the Income Tax Act.

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