Via Poorvi, an excellent story from India Today about Sachin Tendulkar’s scheme to score a tax deduction on revenue earned from his commercials:
Tendulkar had claimed deduction of tax under Section 80RR of the Income Tax Act. The section states that a person can claim tax deduction if he is a playwright, artist, musician, actor or sportsman and the income for which deduction is claimed is derived by him in the exercise of his profession.
When the assessing officer asked Tendulkar to explain the nature of his profession, the master blaster submitted that “he is a popular model who acts in various commercials for endorsing products of various companies”. He further stated that the income derived by him from ‘acting’ had been reflected as income from “business and profession” whereas income from playing cricket was reflected as “income from other sources” since he is a non-professional cricketer. Tendulkar explained that the claimed deduction in tax was from the exercise of his profession as an ‘actor’.
Fascinating stuff. Read the tax officer’s bemused attempts to understand — and ultimately reject — Tendulkar’s argument. (Key quote: “If Tendulkar isn’t a cricketer, who is?”) This little bit of dishonesty on Tendulkar’s part raises some important points, namely:
1) I don’t know enough about India’s tax code, but while I think it’s laudable to include a tax break for artists and playwrights, I also know more loopholes mean more problems. A tax code’s complexity is positively correlated with incidents like these, where people try to fit their lives to the legal language to save some bucks.
2) On another note: in an earlier post, I argued that Test cricket allowed for more intriguing narratives and characters:
[J]ust as in a long novel, where authors foreshadow major events with strategically planted seeds, Test cricket has its own dramatic devices. Take Ishant Sharma’s burst on Day 1, which many commentators said partially explained the collapse that later occurred in the post-Tea session. Or take the marks left on a pitch as bowlers complete their run-up. Those habits of routine become potentially explosive on Day 5, when balls land in their place and explode.
So perhaps Tendulkar’s fault lies not in arguing that he is an actor, but rather, that commercials were his primary stage. Test cricketers have to play a number of different roles in their team — batsmen, for instance, have to “play to the situation” (unless they’re Sehwag). One minute, they must be the ‘consolidator,’ or the ‘anchor’; the next, they’re given license to go wild and score like a maniac.
Or take Dhoni. At the start of his career, Dhoni “played” one character — the big shot. Over time, he has changed, and now wears a more responsible persona. The challenge for cricketers is to embrace different roles as they go through their career. Some are better than others; I’d say Tendulkar is among the best. Shakespeare couldn’t have scripted him better, really.