Actress Priyanka Chopra has gotten into trouble with tax authorities in India over a Toyota Prius Hybrid car she received way back in 2010. The actress had evaded tax on this car by declaring it as a gift. The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) has ruled that the actress needs to pay tax on Rs. 27 lakhs (the value of the Toyota Prius). Ms. Chopra is said to have received the Prius from a company for being a brand ambassador for a campaign.
A lot of celebrities in India receive high-end cars from manufacturers in exchange of brand promotion. It is not known if these celebrities declare such cars as ‘gifts’ from car companies. There is no tax applicable for gifts. However, a company cannot gift to another company or an individual. Gifting has to happen between individuals, according to the ITAT’s latest ruling. Many other celebrities are likely to come under the Income Tax department’s glare if they declare high-end cars to be gifts from car companies.
Coming to the Prius, it is Toyota’s first hybrid car for the Indian market. Launched in 2010, the 3rd generation Prius was imported into India as completely built unit. This also meant that the car was priced at Rs. 26.55 lakhs back then, making it unaffordable for most buyers. It was meant to be a brand builder for Toyota, highlighting the company’s ability to produce extremely fuel efficient and low emission cars. The Prius Hybrid never sold well in India due to the high price tag but that hasn’t stopped Toyota from launching updated models here.
Currently, Toyota sells the 4th generation Prius Hybrid in India. The car was launched in February 2017, and is powered by a 1.8 liter Atkinson cycle petrol engine that produces 97 Bhp of peak power and 142 Nm of peak torque. This engine is assisted by an electric motor running off lithium ion batteries. The Prius Hybrid delivers a fuel efficiency of 23.91 Kmpl, making it one of the most fuel efficient petrol cars in India. It is front wheel driven through a CVT automatic transmission. It’s priced at a hefty Rs. 45.23 lakhs.