I-T Serves it Piping Hot to Iskcon

Taxman questions merit in granting exemption to trusts restaurant chain Govinda

Is spreading the virtues of vegetarianism a good enough reason to avoid tax One of these days,the court may have to take a call on whether it wants to listen to the taxmans argument that it isnt.The other protagonist in the brewing court tussle involves Iskcon one of the largest trusts known for its Hare Krishna Movement whose earnings from Govinda,a popular vegetarian restaurant chain,has come under the Income-Tax Departments glare.For the taxman,Govinda is a pure commercial activity,but for Iskcon,inculcating vegetarian food habits is nothing but charity that should be free from taxation.Moreover,a major portion of Govindas income is donated to charity,which publishes brochures and booklets for the promotion of vegetarianism. But the tax office thinks otherwise.According to the I-T Department,the restaurants activities and source of income clearly fall under the definition of business.Last year,the Appellate Tribunal,a quasi-judicial authority,had dismissed the stand taken by the department, which then approached the high court to argue its point.A tax professional familiar with the case said the hearing for admission of the departments plea is expected to come up any time now.

Economic Times, New Delhi, 25-03-2013


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