In a jolt to Tamil Nadu’s show-biz industry, close to 1,000 cinema halls across Tamil Nadu remained shut on Monday after theatre owners decided to protest against the imposition of 30% local body tax apart from additional tariffs under the new goods and services tax (GST) regime. The theatre owners are peeved at the tax burden over and above the GST rates. “We are against the corporation tax (local body tax) which is 30%. This is in addition to the GST rates. We are not against the GST. We welcome it,” said Abhirami Ramanathan, president, Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners’ and Distributors’ Association.
He sought the withdrawal of the 30% local body tax while pointing out that the Kerala government has withdrawn it. “The tax of 30% is in addition to the GST rates, theatres are shut due to our inability to pay taxes,” he said. Besides the GST, which came into effect from July 1, 18% has been fixed for tickets below Rs 100 and 28% for tickets above Rs 100. The association had also called on chief minister K Palaniswami on July 1 seeking his intervention on the issue.
However, state finance minister D Jayakumar said the demand of the theatre owners could be considered and discussions at the Cabinet level were required, as it involves a policy matter, before arriving at a final decision. Adding twist to the development, the Tamil Nadu Film Producers’ Council has requested the theatre owners to reconsider their decision. Council president and actor Vishal Krishna in a statement expressed inability to support the theatre owners’ decision .