Tax authorities action excessive, unacceptable: Nokia

Protesting survey operation by I-T department at its Chennai premises last month, mobile handset maker Nokia today said actions of tax authorities are excessive, unacceptable and "run counter" to Indian and international standards.

On January 8, the Income Tax Department officials had conducted a survey operation in the premises of the Finnish cellphone major in Chennai on charges of alleged tax evasion.
The company said it has not received any official information on the potential tax claims, and has only seen "wildly varying claims" from anonymous officials in the media.

"We do not see any merit in any of the claims, and are ready to defend ourselves vigorously," it added.

A company spokesperson said Nokia today filed letters of objection in India protesting against the actions taken by the Income Tax authorities at Chennai, which they "believe run counter to the domestic laws of India and international standards".

Among others, the letters have been filed with the Director of Income Tax (Investigation), Chennai, and the Director General of Income Tax (Investigation), Tamil Nadu.

As a company with operations around the globe, Nokia said, it believes the actions of the tax authorities in "Chennai are excessive, unacceptable and inconsistent" with Indian standards of fair play and governance.

"Specifically, in tax investigations like this, local standards would prohibit government officials from entering the factory premises and Nokia IT systems without valid authorisation and questioning individual employees for intolerably long periods of time, even after they have fully cooperated with the authorities," the spokesperson added.

Nokia said since the opening of the tax investigation on January 8, it has cooperated fully with Indian officials, and has responded to all queries raised, extending full support in completing the investigation.

"Nokia notes its position is that it is in full compliance with local laws as well as the bilaterally negotiated tax treaty between the Governments of India and Finland, as far as withholding tax on supply of operating software is concerned," the spokesperson said.

Nokia said it will cooperate fully with Indian Tax authorities in accordance with all applicable laws when "they share their claims directly with us".

"Nokia has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with India, and we look forward to a prompt and just resolution to this matter," said the company which is present in India for past 17 years.

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