Katrina Kaif breaks down as income tax officers search her home

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Income tax (I-T) officials on Monday searched the homes of Bollywood actresses Priyanka Chopra and Katrina Kaif for suspected tax evasion. Twelve places in the western suburbs, including the residences of the two actresses, were searched since 7.30am. Searches also took place at the Worli office of ace photographer Atul Kasbekar’s celebrity management company Bling Entertainment Solutions.

Katrina was not at home when the searches began. She, however, returned immediately on hearing of the searches and insisted that her chartered accountant accompany her. “Katrina even broke down in front of the officials,” an I-T source said.

“The searches are expected to go on for a couple of days,” I-T sources said. “The searches were conduced for suspected tax evasion by the actresses and for allegedly concealing their actual income while filing tax returns.”

The I-T department suspects that the actresses took part of their payments in cash, thereby concealing their actual income. Also, the department is not sure if the actresses had shown their remuneration earned in India as earning from overseas shows.

“Artistes get exemption on a certain percentage of income earned abroad. So, sometimes Bollywood actors seek tax exemption on part of their income by showing it as having earned abroad,” sources said. BP Gaur, director-general, I-T, said the material procured from the actresses’ residences and offices will be used for further action.

He refused to comment why the searches took place. “We don’t discuss these things,” he said.

Six people, including Priyanka’s former secretary Chand Mishra, were questioned by the I-T officials. Sources added that three lockers reportedly in the name of Priyanka’s father have been sealed and their contracts are being scrutinised.

I-T officials further revealed that the appraisal report of the searches will be ready in two months and sent to the assessing officers.

“They have the statutory powers to decide how much income should be taxed,” an officer told DNA. The officer denied that Bollywood celebrities are under the I-T scanner. “These searches are case-specific. We are not targeting Bollywood celebrities,” he said. The officials also searched the homes of the secretaries of Katrina and Priyanka.

“We also searched Matrix IEC Pvt Ltd owned by one Reshma Shetty as its manager. Sandhya was Katrina’s manager. We conducted a search at Kasbekar’s office as he formerly owned this talent management company,” an IT official said.

The I-T department had sent several notices to the two actresses, seeking details of their finances, but failed to get a satisfactory response. “The searches were supposed to take place in the last week of December 2010. However, we had to do our homework since they are high-profile people,” an I-T official said.
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