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Sunday, 14 April 2024

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HomeNewsINC government in Karnataka levies tax on temples

INC government in Karnataka levies tax on temples

President of Karnataka BJP Vijayendra Yediyurappa said that the INC government intended to implement anti-Hindu measures to replenish its empty coffers

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The new Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Bill, 2024, approved by the Indian National Congress (INC) government in the state gives the government the authority to tax temples that earn more than ₹1 crore (10%) and those that earn between ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore (5%). Reacting to the INC government of Karnataka’s approval of the bill in the state assembly on Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has dubbed the state government “anti-Hindu”.

BJP slams INC

The president of the Karnataka BJP, Vijayendra Yediyurappa, claimed that the INC government intended to implement anti-Hindu measures to replenish its empty coffers. “The Congress government, which is adopting consistently anti-Hindu policies in the state, has now taken a crooked look at the revenue of Hindu temples and passed the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments bill to fill its empty coffers,” he stated on X. He said the collected funds would be used for “another purpose”.

“Under this, the government will collect 10% of the income from temples earning over ₹1 crore, this is nothing but poverty. The offering dedicated by the devotees for the knowledge of God and the development of the temple should be allocated for the renovation of the temple and for the convenience of the devotees. If it is allocated for another purpose, it is on the divine beliefs of the people. There will be violence and fraud,” Yediyurappa said, questioning why the INC government was not targeting other religions too.

Karnataka minister clarifies

Karnataka minister Ramalinga Reddy responded to the comments by accusing the BJP of integrating religion into politics. According to him, the INC is the real defender of Hinduism. “Sri Vijayendra Yediyurappa, it is clear that BJP always pursues political gains by claiming that Congress is anti-Hindu. However, we, the Congress, consider ourselves the true proponents of Hinduism because, over the years, Congress governments have consistently safeguarded temples and Hindu interests,” he said. “Did your BJP government neglect its responsibilities between 2008 and 2013, as well as (sic) from 2019 to 2023? It seems they turned a blind eye to the revenues of Hindu religious institutions and charitable endowments, despite the existence of acts or bills in place since 2001,” he added.

BJP controls temples too

In India, temples are managed and regulated by both state and central governments, depending on the state and the specific temple in question. The degree of government control and taxation can vary significantly from one temple to another and from one state to another.

  1. Regulation and Management: Many temples in India are managed by trusts or boards appointed by the state government or by the endowment department of the respective state government. These trusts or boards are responsible for the administration, maintenance and governance of the temples. In some cases, particularly for temples with significant historical or cultural importance, the union government may also be involved in their management. The BJP has invited the ire of a small but vocal section of Hindus for exercising such control over the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi and for the construction of the Char Dham project in Uttarakhand.
  2. Taxation: Temples in India may be subject to various taxes and fees, including income tax, property tax, and sales tax (GST). However, the extent to which temples are taxed can vary depending on their income, activities, and the policies of the state or central government. Additionally, donations made to temples are often exempt from income tax under certain conditions.
  3. Endowments and Revenue: Temples often generate revenue through donations, offerings, and income from properties or businesses associated with the temple. This revenue is typically used for the maintenance of the temple, conducting religious rituals, and supporting charitable activities. Government regulations may dictate how temple funds are managed and utilised. The Tamil Nadu government, currently run by the DMK, is the most infamous for controlling and taxing Hindu temples in the state while the YSRCP government of Andhra Pradesh is accused of managing the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam with a Christian agenda.
  4. Legal and Regulatory Framework: The regulation of temples in India is governed by various laws and regulations at both the state and central levels. These laws may address matters such as temple administration, property rights, religious practices, and the prevention of malpractices or exploitation.

Overall, while temples in India are subject to government regulation and may be taxed, the specific details of regulation and taxation can vary widely depending on factors such as the state in which the temple is located, its historical significance, and the policies of the relevant government authorities.

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