Final tax assessment of trusts linked to Ramdev begins

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The Revenue department has begun a final tax assessment of the trusts associated with yoga guru Ramdev after service and I-T officials recently conducted special probes on these enterprises for alleged tax evasion.

Both the revenue collection arms of Finance Ministry's Income Tax and Service Tax departments have recently issued notices to these trusts which are now being contested by Ramdev.

Officials of Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) and Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI) are assessing the income and service tax liability of these trusts run by Ramdev.

"An inquiry has been initiated to ascertain the Service Tax liability on Ramdev's trusts. Prima facie, there were some commercial activities like sale of coupons to participate in yoga camps and sales of products (claimed to be of medicinal use) by Patanjali Yoga Peeth run by him. The department is assessing them," a source said.

Officials said that information related to the sponsors and the source of money used in conducting various programmes across the country by Ramdev's trusts were being collected.

When contacted, Ramdev's spokesperson S.K. Tijarawala claimed the trusts are exempted from tax net as they are doing charitable activities and not running a commercial enterprise.

"We will cooperate with all the agencies in their probe. We do not have anything to hide. Yoga camps are barred from paying service tax as they are meant for providing medical relief to the people," he contended.

The I-T department, in May, has also slapped a notice of Rs 58 crore on the sale of the ayurvedic medicines by these trusts.

The Service Tax department has similarly raised a demand of about Rs 5 crore on the 'yog shivirs' run by Ramdev's trusts.

Economic intelligence agencies are also verifying other activities done by Ramdev's trusts to ascertain any service tax evasions.

"The DGCEI will also seek details of various activities done by Ramdev's trusts. A letter in this regard may be issued soon," the source said.

Ramdev, who is leading a campaign against black money in the country, heads an organisation that runs the trusts which manages the manufacture and sale of ayurvedic medicines in India and abroad.

The Service Tax department has already issued a notice to Patanjali Yoga Peeth for sale of entry coupons for yoga camps.

Thousands of people have participated in these camps conducted across the country. Ramdev's trusts are also under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate for alleged contravention of foreign exchange rules.

The yoga guru had declared his business empire to be worth more than Rs 1,100 crore. The capital involving the four trusts run by him totalled Rs 426.19 crore while the expenditure incurred on them amounted to Rs 751.02 crore.

While the Divya Yoga Mandir trust has a capital of Rs 249.63 crore, Patanjali Yoga Peeth trust has Rs 164.80 crore, Bharat Swabhiman trust Rs 9.97 crore and Acharyakul Shiksha Sansthan Rs 1.79 crore -— all totalling Rs 426.19 crore.

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