Curtains will finally fall on Uttar Pradesh (UP) entertainment tax department with the all-India rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on July 1.

The department existed in the state since pre-Independence era with the tagline: “We regulate those who entertain you”.

Ironically, the most important assignment that the 80-year-old department has at hand is writing the script for its own merger into the commercial tax department putting an end to its independent existence.

The merger will be showcased as an achievement of entertainment tax department when the Yogi Adityanath government completes its 100 days in power.

The department has 400 officers and employees who will now be a part of commercial tax department.

The entertainment tax department has no other function except regulation and taxation. After July 1, commercial tax department will be responsible for levy and collection of GST on entertainment.

“All indirect taxes will merge to make the GST, the entertainment department that levies and collects indirect tax will no longer exist in its present avatar,” said entertainment commissioner Shradha Mishra.

She said a decision had been taken and the modalities about the change of designation of officers and their new assignments were being worked out.

The entertainment tax department in UP came into existence during the British raj when the Entertainment and Betting Tax Act (1937) was introduced on November 15, 1937 to provide wholesome entertainment to the people and increase entertainment tax collection from cinema halls and betting tax from horse racing, a popular sport at that time.

“When curtains fall on the department on or before July 1, it will leave behind 372 single-screen permanent cinema halls, 59 multiplexes with 203 screens, six DTH providers, 4,784 cable operators with 21.57 lakh cable connections as its memorable achievements,” an official LM Joshi said.

“We also created public awareness by facilitating other departments in showing advertisement slides on HIV/AIDS, bird flu, railway safety, and environment,” he recalled.

The department’s annual revenue contribution increased from Rs 100 crore in 2000-2001 to Rs 725 crore in 2016-17 after the advent of multiplexes in UP.

“It will be an emotional moment for all of us when we lose our identity at the stroke of a pen,” said an entertainment department official.

While some taxes like cane development tax and luxury tax will also be merged into the GST, the cane and tourism departments will not lose their existence unlike the entertainment department since these departments have many other functions to perform. – Hindustan Times