Death and taxes are a certainty all year round, and the festive season receives no exemptions. So, frustrated with Dandiya and Garba event organisers making a killing using any means necessary, the district entertainment duty (ED) department is introducing a slew of measures to ensure that the mandals are not able escape the tax ambit.
For starters, the administration has decided to levy tariff on Dandiya nights, even the ones organised in open spaces. Last year, the state government had declared that no entertainment tax would be imposed on such programmes held in open areas.
Explaining the reason behind this, district ED officer Mohini Chavan said, “The organisers often mislead us by saying that they would not sell tickets and would just distribute passes among their acquaintances. However, they later charge big money as entry fee from Dandiya buffs. Therefore, this year we have decided to collect tax from the event organisers.”
The ED department would levy 20 per cent tax on the rent paid by the organisers for events in open spaces. Till a couple of years ago, the administration used to collect 20 per cent of the total entry fee. This tax was being levied as per the provisions in Section 3 (120) of Entertainments Duty Act, Bombay, 1923.
Chavan’s claim wasn’t far off. When MiD DAY contacted a Dandiya event organiser, he admitted on the condition of anonymity that to avoid paying taxes he did not declare the price of the tickets and attested that they were free passed.
“I didn’t mention the ticket rate on the ‘pass’ and only mentioned my contact number so I could tell people the price when they called me to attend the event,” said the organiser, whose Dandiya event will take place on October 12 at Chandani Chowk.
Apart from this, the department is also keeping an eye on events that are conducted in the name of charity. Sharing his experiences, another Dandiya event organiser, Sandesh Deshmukh, said that he welcomed the department’s decision on instituting checks on programmes being held for a cause.
“Last year, I lost a huge amount in an event that was ostensibly conducted for a cause. My own event partner cheated me, as the donation amount did not reach the concerned NGO,” revealed Deshmukh.
An ED official said that from this year it would be mandatory that NGOs, for which such charity events are held, be registered with the Charity Commissioner’s office.
Dandiya in Pune a low-key affair
The ED department claimed that this year it received only 25 requests for Dandiya night events. Software employee and ardent Dandiya lover Suketu Shah, who is missing the Garba programmes conducted in his hometown Gandhinagar (Gujarat) said that last year he had attended a Dandiya event here by shelling out a hefty amount for tickets.
“However, after noticing that the festivities have become subdued in Pune, this year I preferred to visit the event organised by Gujarati Samaj at Pimple Saudagar,” said Shah. “Back home in Gandhinagar the Garba nights have entry free. Here, we have to shell out huge amounts to attend such programmes. But, even after paying big money I was disappointed, as the quality of the event was very modest,” he added.