Noted Indian contemporary artist Subodh Gupta and leading car modifier Dilip Chhabria have found themselves on the wrong side of the tax laws.
The two firms owned by the duo separately have been caught evading VAT to a tune of Rs 29.5 lakh and Rs 22 Lakh respectively, for last year. While the amount has been recovered during raids, the officials of Haryana’s excise and taxation department are still calculating the amount of fine that the firms have to pay for tax evasion.
Gupta has an art gallery with his name while Dilip Chhabria-owned DC Design has a factory in Gurgaon.
Trained as a painter, Gupta’s work encompasses sculpture, installation, painting, photography, performances and videos. Based in Gurgaon, he is best known for incorporating everyday objects, including steel tiffin boxes, thali pans, bicycles and milk pails.
After receiving a complaint at the department’s headquarters in Chandigarh, a team of excise taxation officers - Vikas Parashar and Arun Goud - conducted a raid on Monday at the premises of the firm named after Subodh Gupta in Udyog Vihar Phase-I area.
According to the complaint, Gupta had sold a painting in August last year to the director of National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi, for Rs 2.54 crore that included VAT of Rs 29.5 lakh.
“On checking the records at the Director General of Audits, we found that Gupta’s firm had not shown the VAT amount in its quarterly returns, least of all depositing it,” said Samir Yadav, Gurgaon’s deputy excise and taxation commissioner (DETC-East), who ordered the raid based on the complaint forwarded by excise and taxation commissioner Shyamal Mishra for enquiry and verification.
Gupta was served a notice before the raid but the firm failed to respond, Yadav said.
Though the department said that it had recovered the VAT amount from Gupta, the artist said that he was harassed despite paying all the taxes.
“I have no knowledge of tax evasion. This is simple harassment,” said Gupta.
In a raid conducted earlier this week, the department recovered Rs 22 lakh from Kherki Daula-based factory of DC Design Pvt Ltd that customises cars according to the owner’s wishes, VAT and penalty for evading it for the past one year.
Founded in 1993, DC Design is a design firm from Mumbai, which designs and builds concept cars and prototypes. Pune-based Dilip Chhabria, the car designer, heads the firm.
“The factory in Gurgaon is a joint venture and we were not aware of the VAT pending on us. When we came to know about it, we paid Rs 22 Lakh,” said Dilip Chhabria over the phone from Pune.
As per the rules, for a firm having failed to deposit VAT, it has to not only deposit the entire amount of VAT evaded but also a fine for the offence.