Rs 4 million tax waiver for parliament secretariat staffers illegal

Published On: July 27, 2017 03:30 AM NPT By: Rudra Pangeni  | @rudrapang

KATHMANDU, July 26: Parliament Secretariat emplooyees have not yet paid Rs 4 million in taxes deducted at source (TDS) on their salaries allowances of the fiscal year 2013/14.
The report of the Office of the Auditor General had in April stated that a sub-committee of the parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had illegally waived the taxes and the report called for recovering the taxes from the employees. About 250 employees work at the secretariat.

The subcommittee led by lawmaker Pashupati Chaulagain had waived the taxes of 2013/14 in January 2016 arguing that the employees were regularly paying the taxes since the fiscal year 2014/15. Before this, the OAG had mentioned the unpaid taxes under "unsettled accounts".
An official at the secretariat's accounts section who is not allowed to talk to the media confirmed that the process of recovering the taxes from the employees has not yet started. 

Commenting on the issue, Former acting auditor general Sukadev Bhattarai Khatri, who issued the 54th report in April, said that employees have influenced lawmakers to enjoy tax waiver illegally by breaching the Income Tax Act 2002.

Secretariat employees are paid an incentive equivalent to 80 percent of their monthly salary and additional Rs 500 as lunch allowance daily. Point 144 of the 54th report of the OAG has said the waiver is illegal and must be recovered from the employees concerned.
The incomes of all the employees of the secretariat including junior-level staff are taxable at 25 percent but they are currently paying only 15 percent as the secretariat did not deduct taxes from incentives and lunch allowance, which are in fact taxable.
"The sub-committee cannot waive such tax," said Khatri adding that the cabinet can waive taxes only after amending the law.
Chaulgain meanwhile said he does not remember waiving such taxes.
The secretariat's deputy spokesperson Dilli Rijal informed that he does not have information if his office has addressed the concerns raised by the OAG report.

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