Hindu temples have to pay taxes in India, while other religious establishments are exempt.
A claim circulating on social media, especially from India, states that Hindu temples have to pay taxes while other religious institutes such as mosques and churches do not. This spurred the #FreeTemples and #FreeHinduTemples hashtags on Twitter to show support. Verified accounts have also posted the claim.
Misbar investigated the claim. A review of the taxation regulations of India, which is governed by the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Act, was done. The act states that any business or organization must be registered under Goods and Service Tax if their yearly turnover exceeds a certain amount (Rs40 lakhs). According to the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), "The provisions relating to the taxation of activities of charitable institutions and religious trusts have been borrowed and carried over from the erstwhile service tax provisions. All services provided by such entities are not exempt. There are many services that are provided by such entities, which would be within the ambit of GST". The act does not distinguish based on religions but is instead based on the turnover of the entity.
In 2017 on their official Twitter account, the Ministry of Finance released a series of tweets debunking the claim, as can be seen below.
The Ministry of Finance also released a statement appealing to people not to share misleading information. The statement reads, “There are some messages going around in the social media stating that the temple trusts have to pay the GST while the churches and mosques are exempt. This is completely untrue because no distinction is made in the GST Law on any provision based on religion. We request people not to start circulating such wrong messages on social media.”
All entities, including religions, must pay taxes if their turnover exceeds the amount outlined in the act. Therefore, donations, religious sales, pilgrimage profits, and other religious activities, turnover, and taxation are calculated. All entities, regardless of which religion they belong to, must pay taxes if their average turnover is Rs40 lakhs; therefore, the claim that only Hindu temples pay tax is misleading.