GST impact on entertainment tax: Around 1,000 cinema houses in Tamil Nadu have canceled screening of scheduled movies in protest against the imposition of 30 per cent local body tax apart from additional tariffs under the new Goods and Services Tax regime. The protest comes a day after historic GST came into play across the nation. “Though the Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors Association had decided on Friday to cancel shows from July 3, many theatres shut down yesterday itself,” president of the association, Abirami Ramanathan was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India. Ramanathan added that around 1,000 cinema halls across state will not be screening movies. Ramanathan, who heads the Tamil Film Chamber of Commerce, said theatres were shut due to ” our inability to pay (taxes) and our move is not against the government.” The cinema body chief further said that the local body tax of 30 per cent is in addition to the GST tax rate of 28 per cent (for tickets over Rs 100) and 18 per cent (for tickets priced less than Rs 100).
Ramanathan further said that an additional levy of about eight per cent under GST over 30 per cent local body tax has now pushed the total taxes to over 60 per cent. The association has demanded government to immediately scrap the local body tax of 30 per cent. “If we screen movies, we have to pay local body taxes immediately as it came into force from yesterday. We are closing since there is no other way out,” he said. Ramanathan further claimed that India is the only country where theatres have no right to fix ticket prices.
“We cannot increase prices for big ticket movies,” he said, adding, they could not lower it for small budget movies either. “We have requested the government to fix a threshold within which we should be allowed to either increase or cut down ticket prices as per the need,” he said. He added about 10 lakh persons were dependent on the film industry to eke out a living.