Gujarat is gearing up to do a Gandhigiri on the taxman and finance minister P Chidambaram’s controversial Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT).
Come October 31, 2006, and the Income-Tax machinery across the state could find itself paralysed by a unique form of satyagraha — thousands of FBT returns with a protest note flooding IT offices.
What’s more, even if the protesting taxpayers do cough up FBT on the disputed items, the taxman won’t be able to get his hands on it.
For, the FBT amount will either go into the government treasury with a refund request or to a separate bank account in the name of the taxpayer with a scheduled bank, as per the Gujarat High Court’s interim relief.
This will leave the pragmatic Gujarat businessman in a win-win situation and the harried taxman with no option but to cough up refunds or issue lakhs of notices, a mammoth task that the 200-300 odd taxmen will be ill-equipped to tackle.
At least that’s what Mukesh Patel, founder of ‘Tax Payers Awareness Campaign’ of the I-T Bar Association of Ahmedabad, Pankaj Patel, Zydus group chairman and president of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Justice BC Patel, former chief justice of the Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir High Courts, are counting on.
The Gandhigiri will first see the three Patels addressing a gathering of 700 tax professionals and businessmen on Monday.
This is expected to snowball into a statewide movement as the deadline for filing tax returns nears with booklets explaining the opposition to FBT and VCDs being prepared to be beamed into homes through cable TV.
“We believe Gandhigiri is the right way to combat FBT,” says Mukesh Patel.