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Katrina, Priyanka concealed income: taxman

By Keith J Fernandez

UPDATE: Officers who searched Priyanka Chopra's house said they found documents that indicated concealed income. “We are scrutinising these to find out the amount of concealed income,” an unnamed officer said, as quoted by the Hindustan Times. Authorities didn’t find anything at Katrina Kaif’s house but are investigating if she transferred money to London and if that was declared.

EARLIER: There’s a downside to the jetset life, Katrina Kaif and Priyanka Chopra have discovered.

The Bollywood actresses, who regularly visit the tax-free UAE to pocket a quick chunk of cash for a celebrity appearance or brand endorsement, were the subject of an income tax raid on Monday, Indian media reported.

Officials also raided the residence of photographer Atul Kasbekar.

The raids began early, with 12 sites being simultaneously hit at 7.30 am. Among these were home and office properties owned by the two actresses, as well as properties belonging to their managers and staff.

Tax officials quoted in the Indian media said the A-listers were being investigated on charges of tax evasion, with income earned abroad under particular scrutiny.

Authorities will now seek to determine if the actresses have paid taxes proportionate to their known sources of income over the past year.

Both are among Bollywood’s highest-paid actresses.

In 2009, it was reported that Chopra, 28, charged Rs60 million for the film “Pyaar Impossible”, while Kaif earned Rs50 million for each film she signed. In the wake of the recession, lower budgets and wage cuts for everybody mean Kaif, 26, will only earn Rs30 million for her work on Aditya Chopra's "My Brother Ki Dulhan", according to The Times of India.

But each has several other sources of income, including television work, product endorsements and appearances at red-carpet events. Former Miss World Chopra reportedly took home half a million rupees for each episode of the hit series “Khatron Ke Khildi”.

And last year, the British-Indian Kaif was also named the face of Etihad Airways, one of the national airlines of the UAE, as part of the carrier attempts to target Indian communities around the world. The terms of that deal are not public.

Both actresses also made several trips to the UAE in recent months to promote their movies. A-list stars flown in for such events may be paid cash by local organisers, although producers often stipulate a certain number of promotional events in actors’ contracts.

In addition, actors taking part in extravagant song and dance events can expect payment to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dirhams. For a brief appearance with then-boyfriend Salman Khan at a December 2009 concert, Dreamz 2009, Kaif reportedly charged Rs8 million (Dh6,43,000).

It is this overseas income that is at the centre of the investigation, the Economic Times said. According to an unnamed official quoted by the publication, India’s income tax department wants to know if the actresses showed film earnings as income earned abroad – as has previously been the case with other actors.

Under Indian law, artists are among those professionals who can file for tax exemption up to a specified percentage on income earned abroad.

The department had found cases earlier where some other actors had adjusted their fees to be paid for acting in films here with the payments received for performing in shows abroad.

Authorities are now asking at how many shows the actresses have performed at internationally and what they earned.

The raids continued late into the day. Publicists for both actresses could not confirm the reports.