The income tax department has decided to reopen the files of cricket icons Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar following up on observations made by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on incorrect assessment.
"We will review the income tax assessments (of Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar) in line with the CAG's findings. We do not take any chance when there is a possibility of revenue loss to the government," AJ Majumder, member of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), said in New Delhi on Tuesday reacting to the CAG report tabled in the Parliament.
The CBDT member also indicated that the recovery effort could be a drawn-out affair. "There is an appellate authority in place and the matter can go from the appellate level to the High Court and, if needed, also to the Supreme Court," he said.
The income tax department has told the CAG that it has "reopened" Tendulkar's assessment for three consecutive years beginning 2000-01, while that for 2004-05 is under scrutiny. The department also said that the CAG's observations would be "kept in mind" while finalising the assessment.
The CAG, in a report tabled in Parliament on Monday, said both Tendulkar and Gavaskar had together been beneficiaries of income tax exemptions to the tune of Rs 4.42 crore. The report, which scrutinised Tendulkar's foreign exchange earnings from brand endorsements during the period 1998-99 to 2004-05, found that the master blaster earned Rs 16.33 crore in foreign exchange in this time.
He was granted exemption under Section 80 RR of the Income Tax Act on these remittances, ranging between 15 per cent and 75 per cent of the total amount. This resulted in a total exemption of Rs 8.87 crore.
Had these exemptions not been granted, Tendulkar would have had to pay Rs 3.62 crore more in tax, including interest.
The CAG said he was not entitled to such exemptions as these earnings were by way of a "model", and not professional earnings by way of playing cricket, which allows the exemptions.
In the case of Gavaskar, it was found his tax liability was lower by Rs 80.34 lakh due to exemptions granted for foreign remittances received in the capacity of commentator between 2000 and 2003, which the CAG said he was not entitled to.