Don’t Tax us - Rajinikanth along with Kollywood's protest

Top actors Rajnikanth, Vijay, Suriya, Sarathkumar, Prabhu, Karthi, Jiiva, Jayam Ravi, Radhika, Prasanna , Sneha and various TV personalities were among the celebs spotted at the one-day fast observed at a venue near Valluvar Kottam in Chennai on Jan 7, by the Tamil film industry demanding scrapping of service tax levied by the Centre on artistes.

This fast was called by apex bodies of film and TV actors, directors, producers technicians, theatre owners and distributors. A host of personalities from film and television industry including directors and producers, distributors technicians and theatre owners are participating in the strike which began at 8 am and ends at 5 pm.

Noting that the Centre was taking several measures to curb black money, Rajnikanth observed that increasing taxes would only lead to more black money. “The centre may be aware of this trend. I feel if stringent laws are framed to penalise tax defaulters, that will bring in more money to the government,” he said.

The protesters contended that the 12.36 per cent service tax levied by the Centre on film and TV personalities’ earnings on programmes and endorsements would cast additional burden on them as they were already paying income tax.

Actor and President of the South Indian Film Artistes Association Sarathkumar said the entire entertainment industry wanted the service tax to be withdrawn.

Film and TV shooting and other allied activities remained suspended during the protest. Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners Association President Abhirami Ramanathan said all theatres in the state would remain shut till 5 pm.

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The imposition of service tax on actors will induce tax evasion and create black money, said leading actors, directors, theatre owners and others here who are on hunger-strike demanding the tax be scrapped.

Tamil superstar Rajinikanth too joined the day-long protest fast Monday.

A certain section of the showbiz industry, including producers, exhibitors and distributors, has already been exempted from paying the tax.

Now members belonging to various film industry associations are on hunger strike demanding that actors, producers and choreographers too be exempt from 12.36 percent service tax.

"The government is coming out with several schemes to bring out black money. If taxes are increased, then black money would flourish. There should be strong law to punish tax evaders," said Rajinikanth.

Echoing similar view, actor Satyaraj said the government should focus on bringing back the unaccounted money stashed away.

According to actor Radha Ravi, the union finance minister should consider their demand as he knows Tamil and the industry.

Referring to the 2014 general elections, Ravi said: "Only if the government meets our demand now, they can meet us one-and-half-year later."

"There is a common perception that film actors are affluent and lead a well-off life but that may not be the case. There have been times when many companies involved in showbiz industry end up paying Rs.60 crore to Rs.70 crore when the entire turnover is Rs.25 crore," R. Sarathkumar, president of South Indian Film Artistes Association, told reporters.

"It is also difficult for small artists to pay because once you enter into an agreement, irrespective of whether the film or the serial is completed, you have to pay the service tax. Our demand is just like producers, exhibitors and theatre-owners, why not the entire industry be exempted from service tax," he added.

Besides Rajinikanth, other leading lights of Tamil movie industry on hunger-strike are - Vijay, Prabhu, Satyaraj, Bhagyaraj, Sarathkumar, Radhikaa Sarathkumar, director K.S. Ravikumar and others.

Screening and shooting of films has been cancelled till evening.


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