BBC, the British Broadcasting Company, has acknowledged its involvement in tax evasion after admitting to underreporting ₹40 crore of income in its tax returns. The admission came after two officials from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) revealed the findings to Hindustan Times, a sister publication of Livemint.
The broadcaster has recognized the possibility of paying lower taxes than its actual liability. To rectify the situation, BBC must adhere to the proper procedure by submitting revised returns and settling all outstanding dues, including penalties and interest.
According to the HT report, BBC, a government-funded entity, sent an email to the CBDT confessing its underreporting of income. The CBDT officials emphasized that the law applies equally to all entities operating within the country, irrespective of whether they are media companies or foreign organizations.
An official stated that BBC must comply with the prescribed procedure or face legal consequences. The Department will take appropriate action until the matter reaches a satisfactory resolution.
The tax department official further dismissed BBC’s attempt to portray the Income-Tax (I-T) department’s actions as a vendetta by the Central government. The broadcaster has informally accepted its involvement in deliberate tax evasion, indicating that the I-T department’s actions were justified in response to their unscrupulous behavior.
In mid-February, the Income-Tax department conducted a “survey” at the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai to investigate alleged tax evasion. During the investigation, officials claimed that the income and profits declared by BBC’s units were disproportionate to their operations’ scale in India.
BBC director-general Tim Davie assured Indian employees that the broadcaster operates without any hidden agenda, driven solely by its purpose.
The British government has also come to the defense of BBC, emphasizing the importance of media freedom and freedom of speech in robust democracies.
The Indian government’s reaction to the documentary has been strong, with some perceiving the searches of BBC’s offices in India as an attempt to silence critical voices.