Chandigarh (Dec 29): The Himachal Bhawan in Sector 28 here got a big jolt on Tuesday when Chandigarh excise and taxation department slapped a notice on it seeking Rs 52 lakh arrears for evading sales tax and VAT for the last 10 years.
Himachal Bhawan, which is run by HPTDC, had started its operations in Chandigarh in 2000 and had since then not paying any tax even as it continued with commercial activities like offering high-end guest house accommodations and renting its premises for exhibitions and other activities. Officials in the IT department said Himachal Bhawan earned gross revenue of more than Rs 4 crore in the past 10 years; however, it did not deposit any taxes. The state government had initially applied for sales tax number but later withdrew the application claiming that state bhavans were not supposed to pay taxes to local authorities.
The UT excise and taxation department had raided the premises in October this year and had detected irregularities in maintenance of records. The authorities have been given one month’s time to deposit the amount. The taxation department has further decided to issue another notice to Himachal Bhawan next week to claim 200% penalty.
Himachalis who travel to the city rue that while cheap accommodation is available in adjoining buildings like Panchayat Bhawan and Jat Bhawan to people traveling from Punjab and Haryana, Himachal Bhawan is almost out of reach for residents of the state.
In 2005, the UT Estate Office has slapped a case for violation of contract conditions on Himachal Bhavan. It had asked the Himachal Bhavan authorities to either pay a fine of Rs 50,000 or submit an affidavit to the Estate Office stating that it adheres to the terms and conditions of the allotment letter. An official of the department said the conditions laid down for Himachal Bhavan clearly stated that it would be used for activities of a community centre.