In another unfunny turn of events for comedian Kapil Sharma – the set of his show in Film City was gutted in a raging fire on Wednesday – he was booked on Wednesday for dodging service tax to the tune of Rs 65 lakh.
Of late, the service tax department has been zeroing in on some big names in Tinseltown that haven’t shelled out a single penny in taxes for a while now (see boxes).
Continuing the line of action, at around 5 pm on Wednesday, officer Sameer Wankhede, from the tax department’s anti-evasion team, called Sharma to his office and grilled him for five hours before letting him go.
The tax unit’s crackdown has shaken up film personalities, and some, like producer Prakash Jha, are reportedly opting for voluntary compliance encouragement scheme (VCS) to avoid the hot seat, the raids and the bad press.
After being accused of avoiding tax, the TV star promised he would pay the dues of Rs 65 lakh on Thursday morning by demand draft. But officials said he had not coughed up the sum.
“We have booked Sharma. He assured us that he would pay the tax dues worth Rs 65 lakh by DD the day after, but he hasn’t done that. We will soon move to take action as per law,” said Wankhede.
According to an official, the comic is registered with the service tax department, but hasn’t paid a single paisa since 2012.
Sources said that after reaching the tax office, Sharma tried to influence the officials with his comic antics. When officials reminded him that tax evasion was a crime for which he could be arrested, he allegedly cracked, “I am a comedian, I don’t know tax laws. Please pardon me.”
The stern officials failed to see the punchline and booked him for evasion.
Sharma’s manager Rajesh Sharma confirmed the news. “It is true that Kapil Sharma was called in by the service tax department, but I don’t know the details,” he said.
72 cases of tax evasion worth Rs 152 cr
In a mere two months, service tax department’s anti-evasion officer Sameer Wankhede has uncovered 72 cases of evasion, which collectively amount to Rs 152 crore in taxes. Of these, 14 belong to film personalities who are to yet cough up amounts worth Rs 13 rore.
Director Samir Karnik of ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana’ was arrested last month for not paying tax amounting to Rs 1.26 crore. The tax department also froze the accounts of director Anurag Kashyap for the same reason.
Officer Wankhede said, “Fourteen Bollywood personalities are liable to pay tax dues to the tune of Rs 13 crore. The law is applicable to all persons. I don’t know who is a film actor or actress; I only know defaulters.”