Kingfisher moves SC on tax demand

The United Breweries Group, which controls debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines, said on Thursday that it has approached the Supreme Court on the summons issued to the airline by the Special Court for Economic Offences earlier in the day.

The court had issued the summons to Kingfisher head Vijay Mallya on a complaint from the Income-Tax (I-T) Department on Tuesday that the company had not remitted Rs 74.94 crore which it deducted as tax deducted at source in 2009-10 from employee salaries. The I-T department also slapped on interest of Rs 23.70 crore on the airline for not meeting its deadline for payment.

A UB Group spokesman said in a statement late on Thursday that the I-T department’s demand of Rs 74.94 crore on salary TDS has already been paid by the company to the tax authorities. Following various appeals against the I-T department’s tax demand, the company has approached the Supreme Court by means of a special leave petition and the hearing on the same has been posted to March 8, 2013, the spokesman said.  
“The (I-T) demand has in fact been set aside by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Karnataka, and it is the company’s considered view that currently no demand exists,” he affirmed, adding that the case filed by the I-T department is “infructuous and needs to be withdrawn”.

The I-T Department had also complained that Kingfisher owes the government Rs 401 crore by way of TDS deducted from salaries of its employees and from payments made to others in the financial years 2008-2012.

Kingfisher, which has not flown a single flight since October 1 last year, currently carries debt of nearly Rs 8,000 crore and accumulated losses and liabilities of like amount on its wings. The airline was grounded after its pilots and engineers went on a strike over non-payment of salaries and is now under threat from lenders who plan to start recovering their dues.

Last week, UB said that it has not hypothecated or pledged the “Kingfisher” brand or shares in the company to any lender to secure its loans.

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