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CAG feels govt can recover Rs 360 billion in taxes from entertainment industry

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Concerned over tax evasion and the need to widen tax base, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has recommended tighter tax norms including mandatory Tax Deduction at Source for the Indian cinema and television industry.

It said the payments for sale of distribution rights of films and time slots to television channels should be subject to the provisions of Tax Deduction at Source (TDS).

CAG estimated in the report laid in Parliament that the tax could go up to over Rs 360 billion. CAG suggested that this would mean that entities making such payments would be required to deduct tax before making payments. "...Provisions for deduction of TDS on sale of distribution rights and sharing of proceeds from exhibition of films may be introduced", the CAG recommended.

Ironically, the report came at a time when the industry was meeting in Mumbai at the FICCI Frames to complain about the apathy of the Government towards it - as evidenced in the Union Budget.

The Auditor said all persons and entities associated with film and televising industry should be assessed in the specially created Film Circles.

Although the government has created four Film Circles at Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru to effectively handle the assessments of entities related with film industry, 465 assesses were assessed outside the circle. "Thus, the purpose of the creation of Film Circles to assess all film related assesses at one place is not fully serviced," it said.

It also suggested that Permanent Account Number (PAN) be recorded while making payments to persons associated with the film industry as "in absence of this it would be difficult to trace the person to whom payment has been made".

The Income Tax department, it suggested, should maintain coordination with the other Central Government Departments and States' Revenue Departments to identify the probable assesses with a view to "widen the tax base and prevent tax evasion." It also wants the tax department to maintain records of incomplete and abandoned films.

CAG said the film industry registered a growth of 9.7 per cent between 2005 and 2009 and generated revenues of around Rs 95 billion in 2009.

The television industry grew at 16.9 per cent annually during the period 2005-2009, generating revenue of Rs 265.5 billion in 2009.

The film and TV industry, it noted, is expected to grow at 16.5 per cent per annum in the next five years to reach Rs 658.5 billion by 2014.