BBC must file revised IT returns for underreporting 40 cr income: CBDT official

Jun 07, 2023 03:31 AM IST

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has landed in a soup over alleged tax evasion and violations of foreign exchange rules in India.

The Income-Tax Department’s action against British Broadcasting Company (BBC) for tax evasion was based on definite material evidence, which the broadcaster acknowledges informally, but it is yet to follow the formal procedure for the same, two officials aware of the development said requesting anonymity.

The New Delhi office of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was "surveyed" by the IT department earlier this year.(Reuters)
The New Delhi office of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was "surveyed" by the IT department earlier this year.(Reuters)

Read here: Delhi HC issues notice to BBC over documentary

In an email to the department, BBC has apparently confessed to underreporting of the detected income, which is as good as “tax evasion” and attracts recovery as well as penalty. BBC must take the formal route to comply by filing revised returns and paying all dues, penalty and interests, which runs in several crores, one of the officials cited above said.

According to a senior official, the UK government-funded broadcaster sent an email to CBDT confessing that it had underreported some 40 crore of income in its tax returns. “The email has no legal sanctity. The BBC needs to file a revised return for it to be taken seriously,” said a senior CBDT official.

The other official said the law of the land is the same for all in the country and there is no special dispensation for either a media company or a foreign entity. “BBC must act as per the stated procedure or face the law. The Department will continue to take action against it until the matter is taken to the logical conclusion,” the official said.

Initially, BBC tried to create an impression that the Income-Tax Department’s action was a vendetta by the government after the London-based broadcaster aired a controversial documentary on the Gujarat riots. “Now, they informally accept they were involved in deliberate tax evasion and the action was against their unscrupulous behaviour,” he said.

Video: BBC 'accepts' evading taxes in India, underreporting 40 crore income | Details

In mid-February, teams from the Income-Tax department were at the BBC office in New Delhi and Mumbai conducting “survey” for alleged tax evasion. HT reported it on February 14. While the taxmen were investigating the case of tax evasion, BBC had said that it was “fully cooperating” with the authorities and it hoped to have this situation resolved as soon as possible.

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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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