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The tax and license fee travails of casinos in Goa don’t seem to end, ever. After serving notice to 10 operational casinos in Goa, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has now initiated investigations into the casino businesses to assess their liability for service fee.
In the notices issued, DRI that is the intelligence arm of Indirect Tax department has asked 10 casinos to pay tax on license fee for a period of three years, from 2014 to 2016. The DRI claimed that apart from their license fee, casinos need to pay service tax to run their business. The DRI also demanded a 15% tax arguing that services offered by casinos can be categorized as ‘goods’ as the casinos “reserve the right to enter” for customers.
According to information received, while a few casinos have complied with the diktat, others have taken the matter to court. A written petition has been filed on the same by Abhishek A Rastogi, partner at Khaitan & Co, with the Goa bench of Bombay High Court. In a recent statement, Rastogi termed the tax demand absurd and likened it to the tax demanded on passport fee.
The move adds to the burdens of Goa casinos that are already struggling to remain operational following the recent hike in casino licensing fee in different categories by the Goa government. The government hiked fee by more than four times in some cases, adding up to ₹150 Crores to its own kitty but creating a severe cash crunch for the then 11 operational casinos in Goa, one of which was forced to shut shop.