India’s tax authorities blocked at least two of ByteDance’s bank accounts in response to allegations of tax evasion, Reuters reported on Tuesday. The China-based parent company of TikTok has asked a court to overturn this decision to avoid disruptions to its operations.
“At ByteDance, we are committed to abiding by local laws and regulations. While we disagree with the decision of the tax authority in this matter, we will extend our full cooperation to the government,” a Bytedance Spokesperson to MediaNama.
TikTok was first temporarily banned in India in June last year and the government extended this ban permanently in January this year. This prompted the popular app to substantially scale down its workforce in its erstwhile largest international market.
The two accounts in question are in Citibank and HSBC. The authorities ordered these banks to block the accounts because ByteDance’s India unit is alleged to have evaded certain taxes with regards to online advertising dealings with TikTok Pte Ltd based in Singapore. The banks have further been directed to prevent ByteDance from withdrawing funds from any other account that is linked to the company’s tax identification number, the report stated.
ByteDance India argued that the blocking was an abuse of the legal process and would make it hard for the company to pay taxes and salaries to its employees. The company, which earlier had 2000+ employees, currently has around 1300 employees in the country. Most of these employees service TikTok’s overseas operations, the report stated.
The freeze of bank account comes after tax authorities inspected and scrutinized documents and questioned executives at ByteDance’s office last year, an anonymous source told Reuters. ByteDance’s court filing will likely be heard in Bombay High Court this week, the report stated.
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