Aishwarya Rai (now Aishwarya Bachchan) might have never thought when she won the Miss World title that it would put her into trouble. But the row over the tax she was supposed to pay for the prize money she earned from winning the title has come back to haunt her after over a decade.
In 2004, the income tax authorities ordered that the income she earned from winning the Miss World contest, that is £50, 000 (equivalent to Rs.26 lakhs), be added to her income and taxed accordingly. Ash however claimed that the income was non-taxable as she was a Non-Resident Indian. The IT department however found during a search operation in 2000 that her passport showed her to be resident Indian. They said that she was out of India only for 92 days as against 186 days claimed by her.
Then Ash challenged the 2004 order and filled an appeal before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), challenging the power of the department to re-open her income tax assessment. The ITAT ruled in her favour in 2007.
However, P R Sethi, commissioner of income tax, Central – I, has decided to appeal the ITAT order and take the the matter to the Mumbai High Court. The income tax department alleged that Ash never produced her passport until a search operation revealed her real identity.
The tax amount was approximately Rs.14 lakhs then. However, the actress has to pay around Rs.50 lakhs now, including interest, if the income tax department wins the case.
Well, Ash should get out of this dirty waters as soon as possible. After all, Rs.50 lakhs is not a big money, as she is said to have been paid Rs.6 crores for her latest film.