'Drought cess', 'lake view cess', 'fat tax': The bizarre taxes we pay
The Goods and Services Tax may propagate the idea of 'One Nation One Tax' but state governments continue to have the power to levy region-specific taxes for goods and services out of the GST ambit. Such a tax is one of the primary reasons for sky-high prices of petrol in Mumbai. From drought-cess in Maharashtra to Fat tax in Kerala, from lake view tax in Bengaluru to superstructure tax in Telangana, here is a quick look at some bizarre taxes.
Drought-cess in Maharashtra
In 2015, the Maharashtra government introduced the concept of 'drought cess'. It proposed to collect Rs 3 per litre of petrol and use the money to help farmers in distress. While the move was intended to be a temporary one that was meant to be withdrawn within months, it continues to exist. "There is no drought cess but there is a tax of Rs 2 per litre of petrol," Rajendra Bhagat, Undersecretary (Finance) Maharashtra told OneIndia. The name may have changed to suit conveniences but the tax is very real. The drought cess was levied in 2015 on "luxury items" like cigarettes, petrol and gold.
Fat tax in Kerala
While the same is now under the GST ambit, the Kerala government in 2016 shot to fame after it introduced 'fat tax'. The government decided to levy a 14.5 per cent tax on junk food. The tax was levied on pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and tacos sold through branded outlets. In the government's defense Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac said that move was in sync with the World Health Organization's advocacy of "using fiscal tools to promote healthy eating". The move was aimed at discouraging youngsters from eating junk food and revert to a healthy eating habit. The move was lauded by nutritionists, doctors, and parents but restauranteurs were an unhappy lot.
Lake view and maintenance tax in Bengaluru
If the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) has its way, people in Bengaluru living in lake view apartments may have to shell out more money in the form of taxes. The civic body has proposed a tax- Lake view and maintenance tax. The move is to encourage people to contribute towards maintaining the lake. The logic- "it has also been observed that people are keen on enjoying the scenic view of the lakes, but do not want to take ownership in keeping it clean and maintaining it," said the officials from the authority. The civic body either wants people living in apartment or builders (residential and commercial complexes) to pay up or take responsibility of the water bodies around them.
Superstructure tax from Telangana
The Telangana government came up with a "superstructure tax" as punishment for illegal buildings in the Hyderabad municipal corporation limits. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation carried out a comprehensive survey and identified around 1.2 lakh unauthorized structures in the city. The government asked the Deputy Commissioner to levy taxes on structures which were constructed on the government and Wakf lands.