I-T official denies reports of BBC admitting to tax evasion

The IT department had conducted a three-day survey of BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai which revealed the income of its various group entities was not commensurate with the scale of operations in India
Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.

NEW DELHI: Amid reports of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) admitting to underreporting its India income by Rs 40 crore, a top government official denied the reports.

As per the official, there is no such standard operating procedure (SOP) for informal or formal emailing. “There is a legal process of assessment. There is no such SOP for formal or informal emailing. Indian tax laws don’t allow any liberal treatment if the taxpayer accepts misdoing,” the official told TNIE.

Some sections of the media reported BBC has admitted to tax evasion and under-reporting of income by `40 crore through an informal email.

The income tax department had conducted a three-day survey of BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai in February, which revealed the income of its various group entities was not commensurate with the scale of operations in India. As per the official, BBC filing a revised return will not help as one can file it only for the last financial year. 

“The tax concealment can be for over a year. So, filing revised returns won’t help. They have to file returns now in response to notice under Section 148 to be issued by the department as per the procedure, after giving an opportunity. It is too pre-ponderous to respond to it,” the official cited above said. 

As per experts, a survey is an information-gathering exercise and should not be confused with a search, commonly known as  ‘raid’. During survey proceedings, tax authorities can gather information and record statements of the taxpayer. However, a statement on oath can’t be obtained during the survey. 

The finance ministry in February had said,“The survey (of BBC premises) has thrown up several discrepancies and inconsistencies with regard to Transfer Pricing documentation. Such discrepancies relate to the level of relevant function, asset and risk (FAR) analysis, incorrect use of comparables that are applicable to determine the correct arm's length price and inadequate revenue appointment, among others.” A query sent to BBC didn’t elicit a response.

“The statements made by the taxpayer during survey Proceedings, by themselves, do not constitute admissible evidence, and can even be retracted by the taxpayer in subsequent proceedings.  Also, tax can’t be imposed during the survey.  The information gathered during the survey is subsequently used by the authorities during regular assessments or may culminate into a separate search proceeding against the taxpayer,” CA Chetan Daga, founder of AdvantEdge consulting said. 

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