“Actors who portray themselves as champions of social justice and against corruption on screens, should not evade tax on reality.” “Even a common man who buys a soap is paying taxes; everyone must act responsibly and in accordance with the law.” These were the words uttered by Madras High Court’s single judge bench on actors Vijay and Dhanush’s Rolls Royce imported cars cases respectively. Not only the actors, but music maestro AR Rahman and director Shankar are also among those who own Rolls Royce cars in the Tamil Film Industry.
Earlier, Kerala High Court had issued an order banning entry tax on imported vehicles. A number of cases were filed in the Madras High Court on the basis of banning entry tax on imported vehicles. Later, in 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the state governments had the power to levy entry tax in a case that was filed against the order of the Kerala High Court.
It was back in the year 2012, Vijay had imported a Rolls Royce luxury car from the UK. Meanwhile, the Assistant Commissioner of Business Taxation had issued an order to pay the entrance tax on the imported car.
Eventually, actor Vijay moved the Madras High Court challenging the order and seeking a ban on tax collection. In the petition, he (Vijay) further stated that due to non-payment of tax, neither the car could be registered with the Regional Transport Office (RTO) nor could be used.
It is to be noted that in his petition, the actor did not mention his profession. Vijay’s petition sought a ban on the imposition of entry tax on foreign luxury cars, where 20% of the car’s total price has to be paid.
Crazy about cars, Vijay owns vintage and BMW cars, Audi A8, Mini Cooper and a Rolls Royce Ghost. In the market, the minimum price of a Rolls Royce is Rs 5 crores and the maximum price is around Rs 10 crores. Unlike other cars, the Rolls Royce is said to consume at least six months for the manufacture.
Vijay’s Rolls Royce Ghost car was priced around Rs 3.5 crore in the year 2012. It belongs to the Rolls Royce Ghost Series 1 model. The car can give a mileage of five to eight kilometers per liter. Its maximum speed is 250 km/h. In that regard, Vijay’s sources sought an injunction to restrain the actor from paying Rs 1 crore as tax on Rolls Royce car alone.
Later, Vijay agreed to pay the entry tax on his imported luxury car. However, on July 13, the Madras High Court Single-Judge ordered him to pay the due tax within a fortnight along with the fine of Rs 1 lakh for seeking exemption for entry tax. The Single-Judge bench also ordered to pay the fine amount to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s COVID-19 Relief Fund and dismissed the case.
Before the case dismissal, the Single-Judge bench hadn’t stopped with that. The Judge made a remark that actors who portray themselves as champions of social justice and against corruption on screens, should not evade tax in reality. In addition, the High Court judge said in the case that paying taxes is not a donation but a mandatory contribution of all citizens of the country.
This remark that was made by the single bench SM Subramaniam has triggered a lot of reaction among actor Vijay fans. Following this, a petition has been filed on behalf of Vijay in the Madras High Court demanding the remarks to be expunged and actor Vijay’s counsel has also informed the court that the actor is ready to pay the entry tax for his imported luxury car.
After Vijay, a similar petition was filed by actor Dhanush in the year 2015 seeking exemption of entry tax for his Rolls Royce imported from the UK for which the Madras High Court ordered to pay the due sum of entry tax within 48 hours. The actor had moved the court in 2015 after a Regional Transport Officer directed him to obtain a No Objection Certificate from the commercial tax department before registering his imported car.
The commercial tax department directed the actor to pay Rs 60.66 lakh as entry tax to issue the No Objection Certificate (NOC). Later, Justice N Kirubakaran, while hearing the case, passed an interim order in October 2015 directing the RTO to register Dhanush’s car on the condition that he should pay 50 percent of the tax amount within a fortnight.
Meanwhile, the time limit was extended and the actor paid Rs 30.33 lakh in November 2015. When it was brought to the notice of Justice M Duraiswamy in April 2016, he directed the RTO to register the vehicle in accordance with the law.
The petition had been pending before the court since then and the Madras High Court Justice SM Subramaniam has passed the order on actor Dhanush’s imported luxury car entry tax case on August 5. The justice ordered actor Dhanush to pay the pending sum of entry tax for his imported car. The Court also slammed that why Dhanush did not mention himself as an actor in the petition and claimed that an explanation is mandatory on this of why did he hide the fact that he is an actor.
Justice SM Subramaniam stated that The Business Tax Department should inform Dhanush about the due sum of entry tax on August 5. “Even a common man who buys a soap is paying taxes. Everyone must act responsibly and in accordance with the law”, he added.
Subsequently, on behalf of actor Dhanush, it is said that he is ready to pay the entry tax by August 9. However, the judge refused to accept actor Dhanush lawyer’s request to withdraw the petition. Also, he dismissed the case by passing an order that the due sum of Rs 30.30 lakh as entry tax for the actor’s Rolls Royce imported car should be paid within 48 hours.
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