Weddings in Punjab to go liquor-free

Patiala, Oct 20 (TruthDive): Weddings in Punjab conducted in banquet halls and palaces will no longer serve liquor from November 1. The owners of banquet halls wants the state government to revise the payment of VAT in advance. Weddings for next month and later have started looking for venues in neighbouring Haryana.

Even though the increase in excise fees to get a liquor permit for banquet halls is not high compared to increase in other taxes, owners say excise officials use the permit as excuse to charge unreasonable taxes, based on their assessment of the venue. According to the latest Government order, advance payment of VAT ranges between Rs 20,000 and Rs 1,00,000 per function, depending on the marriage venue.

Excise officials make owners of wedding halls to deposit the advance VAT before the function. Due to high advance VAT, most customers cancel their bookings. If liquor is served then the excise team puts surveillance at functions.

The government has not given any order to excise officials to charge exorbitant rates of advance VAT. From September last year they are charging advance VAT of Rs 5,000 to R 50,000 per function for different categories of banquet halls. The tax was again doubled 15 days ago without any order.

Punjab government, which is making every attempt to mop up revenue, has ordered a crackdown, on tax-evading posh wedding palaces and banquet halls that are minting money with big fat Punjabi weddings. The state excise department officers have been asked to get all the functions videographed and it will be given to IT and service tax officials. In view of this, many marriages are now shifting to farm houses and away from the known marriage venues. Those on the Haryana border are crossing over from Punjab for such big weddings. The videographing and giving it to Income tax has rattled many, especially the NRIs and the business class.

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