Legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar had a glorious career, often leading India to victories on several occasions with his magnificent knocks. His successful career also earned him a windfall in earnings, especially from his endorsements.

However, in 2011, the 'Master Blaster' had a dispute with the Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal which led to a discussion about whether Sachin Tendulkar was really a cricketer or an actor as well?

The dispute
According to an analysis by Tax Guru, as per Section 80RR of the Income Tax Act, 1995, Tendulkar had earned Rs 5,92,31,211 from his deals, with ESPN Star Sports, Pepsico and VISA. Meanwhile, during the annual tax deductions, he was charged Rs 1,77,69,363.

The questions placed
However, there were a couple of questions that baffled the tax departments: 1. Whether Tendulkar earned this money as a cricketer or an actor? 2. Whether the tax deduction claim exercises his profession?

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Tendulkar’s argument
While this might come as a shock, Tendulkar proclaimed that he was a non-professional cricketer besides actually being an actor and a model. As for his income from cricket and the Board of Control for Cricket in India, he put it in the other income category. While Tendulkar also claimed that his income fell under tax deduction since 1997, in case he was not treated as an actor, he should be considered an artist, since he was a ‘public performer’.

IT’s observations
Meanwhile, the Assessing Officer and the commissioner disagreed with Tendulkar and explained what being a cricketer actually means. The AO further revealed that his incomes from ads and endorsements were due to him being a cricketer, not an actor, thereby ruling him out of attaining tax deductions based on the latter.

The AO continued to demonstrate that Tendulkar featuring in ads is owing to his cricketing profession, as the 'income derived by him in the exercise of his profession'. The commissioner, too, refused to put him under the artist category, thereby declaring that subsidiary activities cannot fall under section 80RR.

Final decision by ITAT
Based on the above analysis, the counsel on Tendulkar's behalf continued to persist that he be treated as an artist, besides putting forward the fact that anyone can have two professions at a time. Nonetheless, the opposing counsel insisted that Section 80RR depicts "exercise of his profession". Simultaneously, the example of Harsha Bhogle was also brought in where it was deemed that a commentator is barred from availing Section 80RR benefit since he does not fall under the category of an artist.

Meanwhile, the ITAT ruled in favour of Tendulkar, deeming him an artist, besides focusing on the fact that a person was bound to have two professions at a time. Clearly, nothing is impossible for Tendulkar, be it any sector of life or career.