Bollywood superstar and Indian icon Amitabh Bachchan reportedly paid about US$130,000 (about 10 million Indian rupees) in goods and services tax (GST) towards the sale of non-fungible-tokens (NFT) in November of last year, according to local media reports.
Bachchan’s NFTs, which are available on beyondlife.club platform, reportedly sold for a little less than US$1 million in an auction organized by Beyondlife, a venture between Rhiti Entertainment and GuardianLink.io, and would attract 18% GST.
The collection included the ‘Madhushala’ NFT collection, narrations by the actor of the poems written by his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan, vintage posters featuring seven autographed posters, among others.
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India’s tax authorities began investigations and sent out tax evasion notices to investors trading in cryptocurrencies and NFTs, after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed changes to the Income Tax Act, bringing NFTs under its fold as virtual digital assets.
Emails seeking responses from the Indian tax authorities went unanswered. Follow up calls made to the department handling the investigation were either unanswered or the relevant investigating tax officer was unreachable. An email sent to Bachchan’s public relations firm went unanswered.
This is not the first time Bachchan finds himself in the crosshairs of the tax department, and even the law. The actor claimed to be a farmer when he purchased land in his home state of Uttar Pradesh. He did that to justify his purchase of farmland in the western Indian state of Maharashtra where only farmers can buy agricultural land.
Bewildered authorities there had asked for proof of Bachchan’s agricultural pursuits. In 2007, a local court ruled that the entire exercise was fraudulent to begin with. But thanks to the actor’s heft and good relations with political leaders at the time, Bachchan got certified as a farmer years later. Agriculturists do not need to pay tax on farm-based income.
Several Bollywood actors and celebrities like Salman Khan and Manish Malhotra and sportspersons Zaheer Khan and Rishabh Pant have invested in the NFT marketplace, hoping to crack gold by auctioning items on NFT platforms.