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Entertainment tax: MSOs & LCOs must collect & pay, HC halts Delhi 'action'

MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court has held that MSOs (multi-system operators) and LCOs (local cable operators) distributing television signals to subscribers directly are liable to collect and pay entertainment to the government.

The court’s decision came on pleas filed by four MSOs – Hathway Cable and Datacom Ltd, DEN Networks Ltd, IndusInd Media and Communications and SITI Cable Network Ltd. They had moved the court challenging the levy of entertainment tax and vires of the Delhi Entertainment and Betting Tax Rules.

The four had sought quashing of the Delhi government’s 17 December, 2012, circular and show cause notices issued in January 2014 directing them to deposit tax beginning April 2013. Delhi had threatened to halt cable TV transmission of the MSOs by closing their headends. The government had stated that the assessment of the MSOs bared that they had been indulging in tax fraud in crore since April 2013.

A bench of justices Sanjeev Sachdeva and Badar Durrez Ahemed, however, quashed the Delhi government’s December 2012 circular and show-cause notices served by its Department of Entertainment Tax asking the MSOs to to pay entertainment tax or face action.

Terming the circular as “without any authority of law”, the bench said, “To be clear, MSOs to the extent that they directly provide cable service to the subscribers without the intervention of any LCO (local cable operator), would be regarded as the proprietors under Section 7(1) and would be liable to collect and pay the entertainment tax to the government," PTI reported.

“However, where the MSOs provide the service through the LCOs, the individual LCOs having its own subscriber networks, would be regarded as the proprietors in respect of their individual networks and would be liable to collect the entertainment tax and pay the same to the government.”

The court made it clear that as far as the assessments related to deposition to tax to the department are concerned, the MSOs “would have to take their own remedies against the assessment orders and/or appellate orders in view of the decision arrived at in this case”.

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