Actor Sonu Sood Evaded Over ₹ 20 Crore In Taxes: Income Tax Department

Actor Sonu Sood, 48, has announced a partnership with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party government to avoid paying nearly $20 million in taxes.

Actor Sonu Sood Evaded Over ₹ 20 Crore In Taxes: Income Tax Department
Actor Sonu Sood Evaded Over ₹ 20 Crore In Taxes: Income Tax Department

The income tax agency stated in a statement today that actor Sonu Sood dodged taxes worth over 20 crores after searching his Mumbai home for three days. Mr. Sood, 48, recently announced a partnership with Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi. Mr Sood's non-profit also raised 2.1 crores from overseas donors through a crowdfunding platform, according to the tax department, in breach of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, which oversees such transactions. 

"During a search of the actor's and his companions' homes, incriminating material connected to tax evasion was discovered. The actor's major strategy had been to hide his unexplained income by taking out phoney unsecured loans from a variety of fictitious companies "In a statement, the tax authorities said.

"Investigations so far have revealed use of 20 such entries, the providers of which, on examination, have accepted on oath to have given bogus accommodation entries. They have accepted to have issued cheques in lieu of cash. There have been instances where professional receipts have been camouflaged as loans in the books of accounts for the purpose of evasion of tax. It has also been revealed that these bogus loans have been used for making investments and acquiring properties. The total amount of tax evaded unearthed so far, amounts to more than ₹ 20 crore," the tax department said.

According to the allegations against the actor, whose philanthropic efforts for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have garnered widespread praise, his non-profit Sood Charity Foundation, which was established in July last year during the first wave of the COVID pandemic, received donations totaling over 18 crores between July and April this year, with 1.9 crores spent on relief work and the remaining 17 crores lying unclaimed. 

According to sources, "a recent agreement between Sonu Sood's company and a Lucknow-based real estate firm is under investigation," and the survey operation was launched in response to claims of tax fraud in this transaction.

"Simultaneous search operations conducted at various premises of an infrastructure group in Lucknow, in which the actor has entered into a joint venture real estate project and invested substantial funds, have resulted in the unearthing of incriminating evidence pertaining to tax evasion and irregularities in the books of account," the tax department said in a statement released today. 

"Evidences of such bogus contracts identified so far are to the tune of over 65 crore," it said, alleging that the Lucknow group is involved in bogus billing of subcontracting charges and diverting cash. To determine the full degree of tax avoidance, more investigations are being conducted. Cash of ₹ 1.8 crore has been seized during the course of the search," the tax department said.

The ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and the Aam Aadmi Party have questioned the timing of the searches at Sonu Sood's home. The BJP has said there is no link between Mr Sood's tie-up with AAP and the searches.