(Vodafone willing to discuss tax demand (Lead, superseding previous story)

September 21st, 2012 - 12:40 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) Britain-based telecom service provider Vodafone Thursday said it was willing to discuss a tax demand of Rs.11,000 crore but remained non-commital on paying a lesser amount if the interest and penalty are waived.

“I don’t know,” Analjit Singh, non-executive chairman, Vodafone India, told reporters after a meeting with tax officials here, when asked if the company would be prepared to pay the Rs.8000 crore were the government ready to waive off the penalty and interest.

Questioned whether he had “stepped down” on his views on arbitration, Analjit Singh said: “I don’t know. These are all very hyper-technical words - conciliation, mediation, arbitration, negotiation. No, I am saying we are ready to discuss. Vodafone is not a company that is confrontationist, that is controversial. This is not Vodafone’s business. It is building telecom. So, Vodafone is definitely willing to discuss. But I don’t want to get into this question of arbitration & negotiation because I don’t know what all that means.”

To a query whether it would still be a viable option for Vodafone if the government waived off penalty and interest, Analjit Singh said: “It’s certainly an option, I don’t know if it’s viable.”

The Income Tax department has sought over Rs.11,000 crore as tax and interest from Vodafone for acquiring Hutchison stake in Hutchison-Essar in 2007.

The Supreme Court, however, struck down the claim.

After the apex court’s ruling, the 1961 Income Tax Act was amended with retrospective effect to bring such deals into the tax net .

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Monday had said the Income Tax department will take a decision on the Vodafone taxation issue after the Shome Committee gives its report on General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR).

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