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GST Council may discuss exemption of temples from paying tax under u/s 23 (2)

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    New Delhi, Aug 2: The next Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meeting may take up the issue of exemption of temple and other religious shrines from the GST purview. Shrines like Tirupati Tirumala Devsthanam, Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, Sidhdhi Vinakay Temple in Mumbai and many more have been demanding exemption from the GST by saying that they are not involved in business activities rather in social and charitable activities. The next meeting of GST Council is scheduled for August 4, 2018.

    Image for representation only

    One of the GST members and minister of finance, planning, commercial taxes and legislative affairs the Andhra Pradesh government Yanamala Ramakrishnudu has written a letter to GST Council chairman demanding exemption of temple from GST.

    Ramakrishnudu writes, "I request you to consider granting exemption u/s 23 (2) to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD). The TTD is a religious Trust and manages world renowned Lord Venkateswara temple. It is not engaged in business activity. Its main objective is to spread Hindu Dharma. Providing services to the devotees is part of that main objective. Therefore levying tax on the amounts it receives in providing services or sale of goods is not justified. TTD utilises the surplus amounts for charitable purposes such as running several educational institutions, hospitals etc. Therefore TTD may be exempted from obtaining registration and payment of GST by issuing a suitable notification under sec 23 (2) of CGST, SGST Acts."

    Shirdi Sai Trust's Baba Saheb Ghorpade said that they too have written to the GST Council demanding exemption because Shirdi Sai temple also running hospitals, schools and many other charitable institution and is involved in social activities. It is not doing business, selling products or making profit. So it must necessarily be kept out of the GST.

    Organisations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad too pitching in for them when its joint general secretary Surendra Jain said, "We have been demanding this from very long that these religious shrines must be kept out of GST. These temples are involved in religious activities not in commercial activities. Even trusties involved in these temple do their own business separately. TTD, Shirdi Temple and Sidhdhi Vinayak are some important shrines that should be kept out of GST the way community dining (Langer) has been exempted from it.

    Manager at Shirdi Sai Temple, Lodhi Road, Delhi too accepted that the temple must be kept out of GST purview as no activity of temple comes under the commercial purview. A big amount of money goes for donation and charitable activities. Deputy chief minister Delhi who too is member of the GST council could be reached for his comment on the issue as there are big temples in Delhi like Jhandelwalan and Birla Temple.

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