Watch TV, catch tax evaders
Many stars had contended that they work in an individual capacity and not as commercial concerns and hence are outside the tax?s ambit.india Updated: Jun 27, 2006 04:01 IST
The Service Tax Department has come up with an ingenuous way to ensure stars endorsing products don’t evade tax: stay glued to the TV. Two inspectors -- who would normally conduct searches and register cases -- have been deputed to watch TV and read newspapers throughout their duty hours to gather “intelligence” on actors and sportsmen (read: figure out what products they are endorsing).
The list these officers come up with will be cross-checked with the list of registered service tax payers. A ‘pay-up’ notice will be dashed off in case any of the stars are missing from the department’s list.
Commissioner (Service Tax) SJ Singh confirms, “We are preparing a directory of brand ambassadors and circulating it all over India.”
However, what the department seems unaware of is that the information it is so painstakingly gathering is readily available with TAM Media Research India, a TV ratings company that monitors ad expenditure through its division AdEx India. It gives subscribers details like revenues earned and who is endorsing what product. TAM says it would be happy to help out the taxmen. TAM’s Director (Communication) Siddhartha Mukherjee says, “We’ll be happy to be of service. We have in the past provided lots of services to the government, whether it’s media analysis or monitoring.”
In the last fortnight, 10 unregistered stars have been identified. They have up to July 5 to pay service tax, after which a daily fine of Rs 200 will be charged along with 13 per cent interest on the amount due.
Many stars had contended that they work in an individual capacity and not as commercial concerns and hence are outside the tax’s ambit. However the government clarified that they would have to pay up.