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|January 6, 1998
Is the taxman scaring away cell phone subscribers?There are fears that the rise in the subscriber base of cellular operators may get reduced substantially as the income tax department has decided to scrutinise those able to afford mobile phones.
The finance ministry is on a drive to curb the black economy. Recently, it proposed the 'two-out-of-four' scheme. It talks of four indicators: (i) owning a plush house, (ii) foreign travel, (iii) owning a cell phone and (iv) owning a car. If an individual has been marked to have any two of the four indicators her income-tax record would be run through.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram announced last week that the over 600,000 cell phone owners, along with farmhouse owners, will be targeted under the scheme.
A leveraged advertising campaign commenced yesterday, asking mobile phone users to file income tax returns by February 28.
Cell phone operators say their subscribers are already aware that they are under the scrutiny of the income tax department and are liable to pay tax. ''So it is not going to affect our subscriber bases in any way,'' said Peter Stok, chief of marketing, Essar Cellphone.
Airtel, the other cellular operator in Delhi, expressed similar views. ''They already know this. It was stated in the Finance Bill and cell phone users know they are under the tax net. So this announcement is nothing knew for them,'' Akhil Gupta, director, corporate affairs, Airtel, said.
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