The Income-Tax Department’s action against the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) for tax evasion was based on definite material evidence, which the broadcaster acknowledges informally, but it has yet to follow the formal procedure for the same, according to two officials familiar with the development who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
In an email to the department, BBC appears to have admitted to underreporting the detected income, which is equivalent to “tax evasion” and subject to recovery as well as penalty. According to one of the officials cited above, BBC must take the formal route to comply by filing revised returns and paying all dues, penalties, and interests, which total several crores.
According to a senior official, the UK government-funded broadcaster admitted in an email to the CBDT that it had underreported its income by 40 crore in its tax returns. “There is no legal sanctity to the email.” To be taken seriously, the BBC must file a revised return, according to a senior CBDT official.
The other official stated that the law is the same for everyone in the country and that there is no special treatment for either a media company or a foreign entity. “BBC must follow the stated procedure or face legal consequences.” “The Department will continue to take action against it until the matter is resolved,” the official said.
After airing a controversial documentary on the Gujarat riots, the BBC attempted to create the impression that the Income-Tax Department’s action was a vendetta by the government. “They now formally admit they were involved in deliberate tax evasion, and the action was taken in response to their unscrupulous behavior,” he said.
Teams from the Income-Tax department were at the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai in mid-February conducting a “survey” for alleged tax evasion. On February 14, HT reported on it. While the tax authorities were investigating the case of tax evasion, the BBC stated that it was “fully cooperating” with them and hoped to have the situation resolved as soon as possible.