Income Tax officers on Tuesday carried out search operations simultaneously on two vegetarian restaurant chains – Hotel Saravana Bhavan and Adyar Ananda Bhavan (A2B) Sweets and Snacks – in various parts of the State for alleged tax evasion.

Split into two groups, about 400 persons from the Chennai Investigation wing of Directorate General of Income Tax began search operations at Saravana Bhavan owner’s residence in city, farmhouse in Tuticorin, corporate office in Vadapalani, restaurants and premises in Tamil Nadu, Bangalore, Vijayawada and New Delhi from 8 a.m. onwards. In the case of A2B, the searches were on at various premises in the State and in the capital.

Most of the outlets of these groups functioned in the city as usual on Tuesday, while it was closed in Mettur Road near Erode, Salem and in other places.

Saravana Bhavan has 34 outlets in India, most of them in southern States. The chain also has outlets abroad.

The dine-in restaurant also added its own brand of ice cream and bakery products. A2B Sweets and Snacks has 54 branches and its other ventures include vegetarian restaurants, ice cream parlours and bakeries. Saravana Bhavan declared a turnover of Rs.300 crore, whereas A2B about Rs.450 crore, said the investigating officer.

Talking to The Hindu, the officer said: “These people have been paying minimum amount of tax, raising concerns about their real taxable income. We feel that the turnover of Saravana Bhavan should be in the range of Rs.800 crore to 1,000 crore from their branches.

“They have also boosted their expenditure. Even from layman’s view the tax paid by Saravana Bhavan is on the lower side, while we are not sure about A2B. We did not touch the fast food outlets as it dealt with perishable items.”

The officer said it was nearly a decade since such restaurant chains were searched for suspected tax evasion. The searches would continue tomorrow.

Staff Reporter from Tiruchi writes:

The searches were conducted at Adyar Ananda Bhavan restaurants at three places in Tiruchi city on Tuesday.

Split into three teams, the officers searched the three outlets from 9 a.m. The operation went on for over 10 hours, sources said. The searches were conducted at the outlets on Sastri Road, in Tiruchi railway junction and in a shopping mall near the central bus stand.

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