New Delhi: As an extraordinary step, the central government has granted tax exemption to donors contributing to the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
In a notification issued on May 8, the Central Board of Direct Taxes categorised the Shri Ram Janambhoomi Teerth Kshetra, the site of the temple, as “a place of historic importance and a place of public worship of renown” under clause (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 80G of the Income Tax Act.
This would allow for deduction of taxes to the extent of 50% to those who donate to the Trust from this financial year, 2020-21.
Section 80G of the Income Tax Act allows for donations made to specified relief funds and charitable organisations to be considered as deductions from their gross total income before being eligible for taxable income.
Clause (b) of sub-section (2) of the Section 80G of the Act says there can be tax exemption of “any sums paid by the assesse in a previous year as donations for the renovation or repair of any such temple, mosque, gurudwara, church or other place as is notified by the central government in the official gazette to be of historic, archaeological or artistic importance or to be a place of public worship of renown throughout any state or states.”
“The exemption under Section80G is not available to all religious trusts. A charitable or religious trust has to first apply for registration for income tax exemption under section 11 and 12, following which the exemption under section 80G is granted to donors,” an Indian Express report pointed out.
In 2017, the government had issued a similar notification for three other sites of religious worship – Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Thirukoil and Ariyakudi Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Chennai, and the Shri Ram and Ramdas Swami Math in Sajjangad in Maharashtra.
The Shri Ram Janambhoomi Teerth Kshetra trust was set up on February 5 by the government with 15 members, three months after the Supreme Court permitted the construction of a Ram temple at the site where the Babri Masjid had stood in Ayodhya. A five acre plot was granted to Uttar Pradesh Sunni Waqf Board for a mosque in another area.
On May 6, the members of the Trust reportedly held a meeting through video conferencing where the general secretary and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Champat Rai said that work would resume on the site with the relaxation of the lockdown rules and the members would soon again “to decide the date of ‘bhoomi pujan’ so that construction (of the temple) can be commenced”.