The Income Tax department has begun a ‘discreet’ probe into alleged tax violations by the elite American Embassy school in the capital, as the external affairs ministry awaits an official response from US officials on a request for details of staff employed at the school and their salaries.
Government sources said the ‘discreet probe’ was initiated by the I-T department's tax exemption wing, which deals with tax related issues pertaining to charitable institutions and bodies that have been granted I-T waiver.
The investigation on the American Assembly is in fallout of the row sparked by the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade on charges of visa fraud in New York last December.
Read: American school under scanner for ‘visa fraud’
“Once the preliminary information is gathered, the tax department would be taking a view on issuing notices to the authorities concerned. Also, the CBDT would be informed as this is not a regular case and involves relations between two countries,” the sources added.
As per the information available with the government, several teachers at the American Embassy school were working, in violation of both tax laws and their visa status.
Read: US embassy still elusive on Indian staff details
The government has earlier indicated that these violations were serious and it was likely to initiate action in this regard.
However, MEA is still awaiting a response on the information sought in December last year on visa and other details of all the teachers at these schools and their salaries along with the bank account details of their Indian staff members.
Read: MEA finds US embassy underpaying Indian workers
India, in 1973, had granted tax exempted status to 16 teachers of the school. But, as per information available with the government, there were many more teachers—like the spouses of the teachers-- who were working but not shown as such.
US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, however, said the school was “not run by the Embassy (and) only about a third of the students there are American".
Read: American school in Delhi not run by embassy: US