Officials claim tax evasion racket at work with gross underreporting of the value of consignments
In these times when India's growth story appears to be turning into a fable, saving one's money through is imperative. Provided you stay within the limits of the law. While investigating cases of missing cargo at Mumbai airport, city cops claim to have unearthed a tax evasion racket. Sources say that costs of goods are often underreported by about a 100 times to evade duties including airline tax and Octroi.
Under-taxed: The cargo terminal of Mumbai airport
"During investigations the fact that shocked the probe team was the cost of consignment in complaint not matching the declared value with the airline. After further inquiry we concluded that it was done deliberately to save taxes. We found that traders in connivance with the Agarres (valuers with concerned airlines) underreport the actual price of the consignment to reduce the tax burden. So, for goods worth crores, traders just pay a few thousand rupees because of this adjustment with valuers," said an airport police official on condition of anonymity. The recent case of a gold consignment worth Rs 1.5 crore that reached here from Hyderabad on December 22 and then went missing is perhaps the best example to establish this tax theft.
"In our investigation we have found that goods that were transported in and out at the airport cargo of two airline offices were listed with depreciated prices with the sole motive to evade taxes. We have also discovered that when the same consignment goes missing the trader quotes a different value for compensation. In the case of the Air India cargo going missing that came to us, it has been revealed that a Rs 1.45 crore gold item was listed with a depreciated value of Rs 1.33 lakh. But when the consignment went missing, the same person in his complaint quoted the original value for compensation," said Satyanarayan Choudhary, DCP (Zone VIII).
"In other cases also this operating procedure was reflected. We have asked the airport cargo department to take up the matter with concerned airlines and also inform enforcement agencies for appropriate action in the matter," he added.
Sachidanand B Hatkar, assessor and collector, Octroi for BMC said, "I am not aware of this. If such things are happening with the cargo, I would immediately ask my team to go to the concerned place and find out the irregularities and violations."
1) For every consignment that comes to Mumbai from outside states, Octroi of 5.5 per cent of the original value is to be paid. If the cost is underreported, naturally the Octroi too becomes less.
2) About 0.2 per cent of the original value of the consignment is to be paid towards insurance. If the amount is depreciated, the money that goes to the airline is also reduced.
3) Similarly, the underreported value also affects the VAT and service tax charges to be paid by every trader on consignments going out of Mumbai.