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Service tax brush may apply on works of art
January, 17th 2007

The suitable boy may not like this story. The government is looking at bringing services rendered by authors, composers, sculptors and other artists under the tax ambit.

A proposal to bring services provided by these entities under the tax net in Budget 2007-08 is currently being examined. If the proposal comes through authors, composers, sculptors and other artists like painters may have to face a service tax of 12.24%.

Some Indian authors and their books have done very well in the past few years with some of them receiving huge advances for their creations. Also, there has been a growing interest in paintings of Indian painters with most of the galleries doing brisk business.

The government has to expand the service tax net in lieu of transfer of 44 new services to states as a compensation for the phase out of Central Sales Tax from next fiscal. However, the move may not go down well with the creative community. Leading author William Dalrymple, whose book The Last Mughal has created waves, said the move was in the wrong direction.

This move is in the wrong direction. Authors have a pretty small income and barely manage a living. The government should support artists. In fact, it should create a special economic zone for them. Indian authors promote the image of the country. India should follow the Ireland model which has given a carte blanche to artists with regard to taxes, Mr Dalrymple said.

Echoing similar sentiments, renowned painter Sanjay Bhattacharya said, Its not a service at all. Its our creation. Galleries do business. They should pay tax, if at all.

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