March 2017 News

Taxmen Using Iron Fist For Mopping Year-end Taxes: Kashmir Inc

23 March 2017
Greater Kashmir
Saqib Malik

Srinagar: Having been badly hit by more than six months-long unrest which caused huge losses to trade and business community in Kashmir, various trade and industry representatives on Thursday alleged that taxmen instead of 'dealing with traders on humanitarian grounds' are using an 'iron fist' to mop taxes from them. Various traders and business leaders told Greater Kashmir that tax related departments are turning a 'blind eye to the slump in business which traders in Kashmir have witnessed due to the unrest and is adopting an 'authoritarian' approach instead. 'KCCI has received disturbing reports from the business fraternity regarding harassment by various departments-wings of the state government. Revenue collection at the closing of the financial year seems to be a bigger priority than the fragile condition of the state's business community who are reeling from losses since the 2014 floods, followed by the consequent economic slowdown to the crippling unrest in 2016,' Secretary General, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry ( KCCI), Faiz Bakshi said. According to spokesperson, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Farhan Kitab business economy in Kashmir is in 'dire straits' at present and instead of providing an extended amnesty for paying of taxes, 'pressure tactics' have been used to mop taxes. 'Although there was a recent provision under which businesses were given an amnesty for the tax to be paid in six installments. But several traders could not avail the amnesty due to the unrest,' Kitab said. Kitab said issuing notices and demanding stock reports from the traders for year 2014 by Commercial Taxes Department is an 'illogical step' since most of the records were washed away by the flash floods. 'How can flood affected traders provide records of 2014 when their establishments were inundated for almost a month. The concerned departments should realize situation of traders on humanitarian grounds and do away with such diktats,' Kitab said. Meanwhile, KCCI in a statement has urged the Department of Commercial Taxes to adopt a practical and humanitarian approach 'otherwise the KCCI fears that many establishments would be facing closure due to the unwarranted harassment,' its statement added. President, Shaher-e-Khaas Traders Association, Nazir Ahmad Shah said most of the traders in Shaher-e-Khaas had suffered losses to their documents during floods adding that taxmen should be more flexible while dealing with unrest-hit traders. Chairman, Kashmir Economic Forum (KEF), Showkat Chowdhary said traders have witnessed a drop in business for last nine months and yet they are at the receiving end from taxmen at the end of financial year. When contacted, Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, P I Khateeb did not respond to repeated calls and text messages from this reporter.