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When ITAT held Tendulkar’s income from modeling & TV commercials, as that of an artist, exempt from Income-tax!

“VISA Power… Go get it!”… Millions who have seen Sachin on TV commercials will never forget these lines of the master blaster, which rolled on screen for almost six long years. But perhaps very few know the interesting tax tale behind it.

During Assessment Years 2001-02 to 2004-05 Tendulkar received an amount of Rs.20 crores as gross receipts from sports sponsorship and advertisements, which included an amount of Rs.6 crores received in convertible foreign exchange from VISA, ESPN Star Sports and Pepsico. Sachin claimed deduction under Section 80RR of the Income-tax Act in respect of the amount received in foreign exchange, on the ground that the said income had been received by him from the exercise of his profession as an ‘actor.’

The Assessing Officer rejected the claim of deduction under section 80RR on the ground that the taxpayer was a professional cricketer and the income from modeling and advertising was not derived by him from the exercise of his profession. According to the Assessing Officer, by endorsing any products in advertisements, the taxpayer did not become a person whose profession was acting. On appeal, the Commissioner (Appeals) confirmed the action of the Assessing Officer on the ground that by profession the taxpayer was neither an ‘actor nor an artist.’ The activity of appearing in advertisement or commercial, etc. could not be equated with that of an actor or artist and this activity was subsidiary activity of the taxpayer and was also not directly related to his profession of playing cricket. Therefore, any subsidiary activity, which was not directly related to the specific profession, could not be considered for deduction under Section 80RR.

On appeal by Tendulkar before the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), reliance was placed by his counsel on the decision of the ITAT in the case of silver screen celebrity Amitabh Bachchan, wherein the Tribunal had held that the payment received by Amitabh from KBC, for acting as an anchor of the said show, was income derived by him as an artist and deduction u/s 80RR was accordingly allowed in respect of such income. Similar reliance was also placed on the decision in the case of cine icon Shahrukh Khan, wherein the ITAT had allowed the deduction u/s 80RR on amounts received by Shahrukh for allowing his name to be used for a product for which he had to attend photo and launch sessions in media. On the other hand, the Department relied on the decision of Harsha Bhogale, the noted cricket commentator, wherein similar claim had been rejected by the ITAT.


After due consideration, the ITAT allowed Tendulkar’s tax appeal. While arriving at its conclusion, the Tribunal gave its logical reasoning and observed that while appearing in advertisements and commercials Sachin has to face the lights and camera. As a model, he brings to his work a degree of imagination, creativity and skill to arrange elements in a manner that would affect human senses and emotions and to have an aesthetic value. The Tribunal remarked that, “No doubt, being a successful cricketer, it has added to his brand value as a model. But the fact remains that the taxpayer has to use his own skills, imagination and creativity. Every person, or for that matter every sportsman, does not possess that degree of talent or skill or creativity and face the lights and camera etc.”

The ITAT finally held that considering the totality of the facts of the case and in the light of the ratio of various decisions, the income received by Sachin from modeling and appearing in T.V. commercials and similar activities can be termed as income derived from the profession of ‘an artist.’ The Tribunal observed that as admitted by the learned Departmental Representative, a taxpayer can have more than one profession. Therefore, there is no bar on the part of the taxpayer to have its second profession as an artist apart from playing cricket. The ITAT, therefore, concluded that, it was of the considered opinion that the amount of Rs. 6 crores received by Sachin Tendulkar in foreign exchange amounted to income derived by him in the exercise of his profession as an artist and was, therefore, entitled to deduction u/s 80RR.

And that’s how Sachin’s appeal off the field came to be decided in his favour, yielding him a clear tax saving of Rs.2 crores. And for tax records, Sachin came to be acknowledged not just as a cricketer, but as an artist too!


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