Exclusion of rich farmer income from IT, HC issues notice to Centre, Punjab, Haryana
Chandigarh(DP Correspondent) – The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday issued notice to Union of India, and states of Punjab and Haryana for November 17 in a PIL filed challenging total exclusion of agricultural income of rich and affluent farmers from levy of income tax. Arguing in front of a Division Bench comprising Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal and Justice Amit Rawal, the petitioner-cum-advocate Hari Chand Arora contended that provision contained in the Income Tax Act, 1961, providing total exemption of agricultural income from income tax is highly arbitrary.He said that as even the rich and affluent farmers have been given benefit of this provision. He alleged that big industrialists, transporters, liquor barons are taking benefit of this provision and causing huge loss to revenue by diverting income from other business to show it to be agricultural income for avoiding liability to pay income tax.He further contended that exemption under this Act is against basic principles of our Constitution which envisages India to be “a socialist republic,” when very rich and affluent farmers are being given benefit of this provision by exempting their agricultural income also from tax. The petitioner contended that this provision is arbitrary and discriminatory also, as other persons with same quantum of income are being made to pay income tax.The petitioner alleged that even rich political leaders are also availing benefit of such exemption from paying tax on their agricultural income. Petitioner stated that Tax Administration Reforms Commission (TARC) had submitted its recommendations in 2014 to the Centre/CBDT. One recommendation was that farmers having agricultural income of more than Rs 50 lakh should at least be levied tax on their agricultural income, but the CBDT did not accept even the said recommendation.
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