Bollywood actors Irrfan and Vinay Pathak have been roped in by the Finance Ministry to publicise a government-run amnesty scheme for service tax evaders and warn them about consequences of failure to pay their dues.
Both Irrfan and Vinay Pathak, who have acted in scores of Bollywood movies, will work for free in the visual info-commercials, to be initially telecast on news channels. It which will be produced by renowned musician and advertising guru Prasoon Joshi, a Finance Ministry official said.
The actors will inform people about the benefits of Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme (VCES), announced by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, for service tax defaulters and encourage them to take its benefits.
"The info-commercials will start coming on news channels very soon. Later, they will be telecast on other channels too. The actors have decided not to charge anything for these commercials," the official said.
The VCES, announced by Chidambaram in his Budget speech has come into effect from May 10, allows a service tax defaulter to pay due without any penalty or late payment charges.
Under the scheme, a person may make a declaration to the designated authority on or before December 31, 2013.
As many as 1,400 declarations have been filed under the scheme so far by defaulters liable to pay Rs 650 crore to the government, according to a latest data.
Terming service tax evasion as new focus area, the Finance Ministry plans to target 12 lakh such assesses who had stopped filing returns.
In a related development, the Finance Ministry has also started sending letters to service tax, customs and excise duty defaulters asking them to come clean on certain dubious transactions carried out by them.
The aim behind sending such letters is to remove bureaucratic hassles and develop faith in people about tax authorities, officials said.
The Finance Ministry has set indirect tax collection target of Rs 5.65 lakh crore for 2013-14, up from Rs 4.73 lakh crore in the last fiscal.