Persons with disabilities plea on Professional Tax exemption
On the occasion of yet another World Disability Day, groups of activists in Tamil Nadu have urged that the discrepancies in the implementation of Professional Tax exemption for persons with disabilities be resolved throughout the State.
Employees of some State and Central government departments such as Aavin, AG’s office, Education, High Court, and until recently the ICF, have not been enjoying the professional tax exemption, primarily because of varied interpretation of the term disability.
“The real problem lies with the definition of Disability in the Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act, 1919, which says that persons with “total” disability in any part of the body are eligible for exemption. But the term total disability is subject to varied interpretation and is vague,” says K.Gopinath, member, Tamil Nadu Welfare Board for the Disabled, says. He himself, as an employee of Aavin, faces this problem. However, there is no need for confusion and the issue is easily resolved as the Persons with Disbilities Act, 1995, classifies persons with 40% disability as “disabled” and an identity card is issued to the persons with disabilities by the State Special Commissioner for the Disabled. These persons are then eligible for all the benefits, including professional tax exemption, he explains.
ICF Handicapped Employees Welfare Association president M.Manickaraj says his employer had stopped collecting Professional Tax for the last three months, on receipt of a demi-official (D.O.) letter from the then State Commissioner for the Disabled, Meenakshi Rajagopal. “But we keep getting objections from the accounts section. They are threatening to revive collection of Professional Tax until the Act is amended,” he says.
Mr. Gopinath says he raised this issue at a meeting of the Tamil Nadu Welfare Board for the Disabled. Responding to the issue, the D.O. was issued to various heads of departments requesting them to exempt all the disabled employees working under their control from the payment of professional tax, as it will take some time to amend the act. Office bearers of the Tamil Nadu Association for the welfare of the Physically Challenged have also written to the Municipal Administration and Water Supply department, requesting them to amend the act as soon as possible.