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Merchant Navy union to challenge I-T tribunal judgement in HC

The Maritime Union of India (MUI) and the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) have jointly decided to challenge a recent judgement of an income tax tribunal in the Kolkata High Court next week.

A judgement delivered recently by the Kolkata income tax tribunal has now mandated Indian merchant navy workforce to pay taxes in India, which according to the Merchant Navy officers has shattered the workforce of the maritime industry in the country.

With the effect of the tribunal’s judgement, around 1.30 lakh Indian seafarers, who were so far exempted from paying taxes in India, will get affected.

Amar Thakur, General Secretary, MUI, the only union representing Indian Merchant Navy officers since 1939 said, “We have hired eminent lawyers and tax consultants to strongly oppose the Kolkata Income Tax tribunal’s verdict in the Kolkata High Court. We will approach the court early next week and challenge the tribunal’s order in the interest of the Indian maritime industry.”

Indian seafarers sailing offshore on ships for more than 182 days in a year so far enjoyed the benefits conferred to Non-Resident Indians and hence were exempted from paying income tax in India for their income earned overseas.

NUSI, India’s oldest maritime trade union, and MUI have also sought Centre’s immediate intervention in the matter.

Maritime experts believe that the Kolkata income tax tribunal’s recent judgement is a huge blow to the Indian Ministry of Shipping’s ‘Maritime Agenda 2020′ that emphasises on increasing the global share of Indian seafarers.

“India with 12 per cent of the world’s population has just 7 per cent of the world-wide seafarers’ market whilst Philippines with 12 per cent of the world’s population has grabbed 20 per cent global share. Additionally, Philippines’ government does not levy income tax on the remuneration earned by the country’s seafarers,” said NUSI’s General Secretary Abdulgani Serang.

“Tax free income has always been an added attraction for the young Indian aspirants choosing a career at sea. The tribunal’s decision is a major disappointment for them,” he said in a release.

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