Finance Minister announces revision in tax proposals, duties, and fees in Kerala Budget

Published - July 10, 2024 09:35 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal on Wednesday announced revision in the taxes, duties, and fees that had been hiked as part of resource mobilisation measures in the State Budget. Wednesday’s announcements included a reduction in the hiked family court fee rates and an exemption for solar ‘prosumers’ from payment of electricity duty.

The changes were brought into effect through the Finance Bill that was passed by the Assembly on Wednesday.

The revised court fee stamp rates for family court petitions/counter claims are as follows, depending on the value of the ‘subject matter’: up to ₹5 lakh (₹200), ₹5 lakh-₹20 lakh (₹500), ₹20 lakh-₹50 lakh (₹1,000), ₹50 lakh-₹1 crore (₹2,000), and above ₹1 crore (₹5,000). When calculating the value of the ‘subject matter’, the value of the dwelling house will be exempted, the Finance Bill noted.

For appeal petitions, the fees will be as follows: up to ₹5 lakh (₹100), ₹5 lakh-₹20 lakh (₹250), ₹20 lakh-₹50 lakh (₹500), ₹50 lakh-₹1 crore (₹1,000), and above ₹1 crore (₹2,500).

(The 2024-25 State Budget had proposed hiking the ₹50-fee under Section 7(1)(c) of the Family Courts Act, 1984. The originally proposed rate revisions ranged from ₹200 to a maximum of ₹2 lakh, sparking protests from the Opposition United Democratic Front, which registered its strong dissent to the proposal.)

The hike in court fees proposed as per Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, dealing with dishonoured cheques, has been revised as follows: Where the amount of dishonoured cheque involved in the complaint is up to ₹50,000, the fee will be ₹250. ₹50,000-₹2 lakh (₹500), ₹2 lakh-₹5 lakh (₹750), ₹5 lakh-₹10 lakh (₹1,000), ₹10 lakh-₹20 lakh (₹2,000), ₹20 lakh-₹50 lakh (₹5,000), above ₹50 lakh (₹10,000).

Solar prosumers, consumers who generate and consume energy from solar sources, stand exempted from the hike in electricity duty. The State Budget had proposed a hike from 1.2 paise per unit to 15 paise under the Kerala Electricity Duty Act.

Motor vehicle tax

Mr. Balagopal also announced a further reduction in the tax rates for motor vehicles. For all-India tourist buses with ordinary seats, the quarterly tax rate has been slashed from ₹2,250 to ₹1,500 per seat. For buses having push-back seat, the rate has been slashed from ₹3,000 to ₹2,000 per seat. For sleeper berths on buses, the rate has been slashed from ₹4,000 to ₹3,000 per berth.

Amnesty scheme

The revised slabs for the amnesty scheme announced in the Budget for settling tax arrears under various laws of the pre-Goods and Services Tax (GST) regimes are as follows: tax arrears up to ₹50,000 will be written off entirely. This covers a liability of ₹116 crore for 22,267 traders, Mr. Balagopal said.

For arrears ranging from ₹50,000 to ₹10 lakh, defaulters need to pay only 30% of the arrears. For arrears between ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore, there are two schemes; 40% of the amount for cases under appeal and 50% for others. For tax arrears above ₹1 crore, 70% for cases under appeal and 80% for the rest. December 31, 2024, is the deadline for joining the amnesty scheme.

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