The high court here today agreed to issue notices on a petition by a group of Special Economic Zone (SEZs) developers against the Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) levy introduced in the Union Budget of 2011-12.
The budget levied 18.5 per cent MAT on SEZs. The contention of the petitioners, the Tamil Nadu Association of SEZ Infrastructure Developers, is that they and the units in SEZs are exempt from MAT under Section 115 of the Income Tax Act. These fiscal incentives have been promised and committed in the SEZ Act, 2005, they argue.A representative from the Association said the Union Government had negated its own SEZ Act. The Act said it would exempt all taxes and levies for those companies which set up units in SEZs.
Industry sources said there were 27 operational SEZs in Tamil Nadu. Total investments in these are likely to cross Rs 50,000 crore. SEZs (excluding information technology ones) in the registered physical and deemed exports worth Rs 35,641crore in 2009-10.An association member said withdrawal of the promised concessions under the SEZ Act was bound to send a wrong signal to investors, both domestic and overseas. The HC has asked the government counsel to appear on Friday and the court was to also serve notice to the finance ministry and revenue department.