I-T raids at Nokia plant, offices

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Chennai: Finnish mobile handset-maker Nokia joined the bandwagon of corporates facing the heat of Indian tax authorities. Nokia’s manufacturing plant and offices in Chennai came under the income-tax (I-T) scanner on Tuesday.
A team of about 20 I-T officials conducted raids at the Nokia plant in Sri­perumbudur suspecting tax evasion of `3,000 crore by the company. “Most of the foreign companies in India violate TDS (tax deducted at source) norms. Searches at Nokia premises were conducted to check if they were evading TDS,” said an I-T official. Generally, corporates are accused of TDS default on payments to other countries against software supplies.
Confirming the raids, a Nokia spokesperson said, “Earlier today, tax officials visited Nokia’s manufacturing unit in Chennai. Nokia is fully cooperating to ensure they get the necessary information to help in their inquiry.”
On queries about tax evasion, the company said it consistently fielded a large and steady number of tax queries, audits and assessments. “Nokia’s commitment to being a good corporate citizen is firm and unwavering: we always observe applicable laws and rulings in the countries where we operate. This has been a core principle of our operations in India, where Nokia has been present since 1995,” the spokesperson said.
The Sriperumbudur plant is one of Nokia’s biggest handset manufacturing facilities across the world and has been in operation since January 2006. It produces more than 3,00,000 handsets a day and employs over 11,300 people.
The raids seem to be a direct impact of finance minister P. Chidambaram’s determination to plug the widening fiscal deficit by clamping down on tax evasion.
Cadbury India faced the heat of I-T authorities in November for alleged tax evasion of `200 crore.
In its pre-budget memorandum to the finance ministry, industry body Assocham had demanded that the government not reopen tax assessment cases which are beyond three years as it leads to unnecessary “harassment” of taxpayers.

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