IT raids rattle Telugu film industry honchos

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HYDERABAD: The Telugu film industry went in panic as Income Tax Department sleuths carried out simultaneous raids on the residences and offices of several top production houses on Wednesday.

 

This includes Daggubati Suresh Babu, and his brother and actor Venkatesh as well as Nani. Reports said that the raids followed tip tip-off the department got regarding major tax evasion by the industry giants.

This is the first time Nani facing IT searches. Nani is one of the busiest stars in the Telugu film industry. He, who charges Rs.10 crore for a film, earns nearly Rs 30 crore per annum.

According to a report in Hindu, sources confirmed that searches are also being conducted at Hariska & Hassine Creations owned by producer S. Radha Krishna, Wall Poster Cinema of actor Nani and G. Mahesh Babu Entertainment Private Limited belonging to actor Mahesh Babu.

At least 10 teams are reportedly conducting searches at the houses and offices of film actors. IT teams led by senior officials visited the Ramanaidu Studios, Guest House-cum-Office of Suresh in Film Nagar and his house in Jubilee Hills in the early hours of Wednesday.

“We are verifying the financial transactions of this firm. A team has also been to his brother, Venkatesh’s house in Manikonda,” an officer was quoted by Hindu as saying. The officials declined to provide more details.

The raids are part of IT department action to fulfil the increased targets given to them by the government to shore up its revenue amid sharp economic slowdown. The government has asked the officials to collect a whopping 17 percent more direct taxes this year.

Tax officials are now stuck between a push to meet unrealistic collection targets, which influence their appraisals and transfers, and fear of being accused of overreach, according to a half-dozen tax officials interviewed by Reuters.

Many are clocking long hours and working weekends to collect some 13.4 trillion rupees in direct taxes this fiscal year, a target tax experts contend is far too steep given slumping sales for everything from biscuits to cars.

Tax officials said that the slowdown in businesses in the wake of natural calamities like flood and cyclone had also made their tasks difficult.

Image Credit: Telugu Cinema

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