Are legislators professionals or public servants? The Thrivananthapuram municipal corporation has thrown open this debate, asking all 141 legislators of Kerala to pay professional taxes immediately.
To rub in the salt further – the taxes would apply on their income since 2008 and the legislators have to pay a further penalty at a monthly rate of one per cent on the money owed.
A notice to this effect was sent to by the corporation to the secretary of the Kerala Legislative Assembly last week.
The state government had imposed professional taxes since 2005, which is over and above income tax and the money is payable to the municipal corporation.
The tax is levied on people with a monthly income of R15,000. The legislators came under its ambit following a hike in their salary in 2008. Currently, the monthly emoluments of an MLA are above R40,000.
The MLAs, however, never paid the taxes. Notice was drawn to the default following an audit of local funds carried out last month.
The legislators have protested against the move arguing that theirs is not a “profession” but “public service” and they are not liable to pay professional taxes.
Thiruvananthapuram mayor, CPM’s K Chandrika, said they were left with no other option but to send the notice.
“It (the notice) was sent after objections from the government’s Local Fund Audit department,” she said.
She added: “The MLAs should approach a competent authority to get the notice annulled. Otherwise, our officials, who are just doing their duty, will be in a soup.”
The MLAs are yet to reply to the notice. But the Speaker has summoned the corporation secretary to appear before the House on Tuesday.