note demonetisation

Demonetisation: Income Tax notice to Catholic Church in Goa kicks up a political controversy

The Archdiocese of Goa was given less than a day to provide details of cash in hand.

An Income-Tax notice sent to the Archdiocese of Goa last week following the Union government’s decision to withdraw high-value notes earlier this month has created a political stir in the state that is scheduled for Assembly elections early next year. The state Opposition has said that the notice shows the Bharatiya Janata Party’s biased attitude towards minority institutions.

The notice gave the Archdiocese less than a day to furnish, among other information, details of the cash balance, and the number of demonetised notes the Goa Catholic Church and its affiliates held as on November 8, when the government’s demonetisation policy was announced.

The request was dated November 18, which the Archdiocese received on November 21 – the very day it was expected to furnish the details sought. It was made under Section 133 (6) of the Income-Tax Act.

An Archdiocese is the word the Catholic church uses to refer to an area for which an Archbishop, a senior priest, is responsible. All of Goa’s Catholic churches come under the Goa Archdiocese.

Details of cash in hand

Though the Income-Tax notice is one of several sent to trusts and religious bodies in the country following the demonetisation announcement, in Goa, the department has been accused of singling out only the Archdiocese.

“If the government is asking a religious institution to furnish financial details in a day, it reflects on the government’s attitude towards minority institutions,” Congress spokesman Sunil Kawthankar told Scroll.in. “We have seen the attitude in the past as well.”

The notice from the office of the assistant commissioner of Income-Tax (Exemptions), Circle- 1, based in Mangaluru, seeks several details from the Financial Reorganisation Fund of the Archdiocese of Goa.

The notice says a Central Board of Direct Taxes direction seeks urgent information about “cash balances with trust/society/AOP [Association of Persons] etc. Hence, you are required to furnish the details of cash balance held by your trust as well as all institutions and branches etc under your trust as on day 8th November 2016.”

It further sought a “self-attested copy of cash book of all the institutions as on 7th, 8th and 9th of November 2016”, balance as on March 31, and a declaration of the number of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes held by the Fund and its affiliates as on November 8.

Need more time

“The Fund files its returns regularly,” said a church insider with knowledge of the workings of the Archdiocese. “We will comply with all their requests. But we have asked for more time to submit the same as it is not possible to collect and collate the information from over 100 affiliates in a day’s time.”

Meetings have already been called within the Archdiocese to organise the data collection, which will involve all state’s parishes – the small administrative districts into which the Archdiocese is divided.

Catholic churches usually take a cash collection during weekly Sunday services. This money is used for maintenance, charity and other related purposes by the church administration. Following demonetisation, the weekly cash collections have reportedly dropped possibly due to a perceived scarcity of low-denomination notes.

‘Singling Church out’

Local English daily The Goan, questioned why only the Church was picked for the notice. It published a report on Saturday that pointed out that Income-Tax authorities had not asked any of the prominent religious bodies of other faiths in the state to declare cash in hand and cash book entries.

In an editorial on Saturday titled, In Bad Faith, the newspaper asked why the government was not looking at places where black money was traditionally spent.

  “Is there anyone in government to tell us if letters have also been sent to the casino industry, for instance…The onus is now on the I-T department to prove that it is approaching the black money issue with an even hand. It has to show and prove that it is looking in the right places and not using the law as a tool to harass religious institutions”.  

Though reports have also pointed out that Hindu temples in particular have not received any such Income-Tax notice, this is possibly due to the fact that many temples do not come under the Income-Tax Act under which the notice has been served.

On Sunday, Shantaram Naik, a member of Parliament from the Rajya Sabha from Goa, expressed his surprise that the central government was “selectively target[ing]” Goa churches and said that churches in the state should be exempt from Income-Tax just as Hindu temples were.

Following the demonetisation announcement earlier this month, a clutch of firms and individual offices in Goa, including a mining firm, were searched by Income-Tax officials. These raids have been creating a stir in the poll-bound state with supporters of the Opposition parties particularly hard hit.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

One such example is Vizmato, an app which enables anyone with a smartphone to create professional-looking videos minus the learning curve required to master heavy, desktop software. It makes it easy to shoot 720p or 1080p HD videos with a choice of more than 40 visual effects. This fuss- free app is essentially like three apps built into one - a camcorder with live effects, a feature-rich video editor and a video sharing platform.

With Vizmato, the creative process starts at the shooting stage itself as it enables live application of themes and effects. Choose from hip hop, noir, haunted, vintage and many more.

The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

Or you can simply choose to unleash your creativity at the editing stage; the possibilities are endless. Vizmato simplifies the core editing process by making it easier to apply cuts and join and reverse clips so your video can flow exactly the way you envisioned. Once the video is edited, you can use a variety of interesting effects to give your video that extra edge.

The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.

Play

So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.