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Tax evaders set to face action: CBDT chairman Sushil Chandra

LiveMint logoLiveMint 13-09-2017 Gireesh Chandra Prasad

New Delhi: The income tax department will conclude its investigations into the financial dealings of about 100,000 individuals suspected of tax evasion and persuade many other assessees caught on the wrong side of the law to start filing tax returns, Sushil Chandra, chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), said in an interview.

Determined to bring into the tax net those who make high-value purchases and investments but don’t file returns, the tax authority is on a massive data-crunching exercise that will make it difficult for tax evaders to remain unnoticed, said Chandra. The drive also covers those who keep unaccounted funds abroad.

“Our message to assessees is that your investments are on our radar. If you are not filing returns, we will catch you,” said Chandra.

As part of the “Operation Clean Money” exercise of analysing cash deposits made after the 8 November demonetisation, the department identified about 754,000 medium-risk, 595,000 low-risk and 341,000 very low-risk assessees in terms of the tax amounts they may have cheated on.

Priority is being given to conclude investigations into the 100,000 individuals in the high-risk category. Those in the low-risk category will get emails urging them to file returns.

Chandra said 14,000 people who have purchased property worth more than Rs1 crore but have not filed returns will face action. “We will ask them to file returns. Some enforcement action may also be necessary,” he said.

Besides bringing unaccounted wealth under the tax net, the government is seeking to boost revenue to finance a 6.5% jump in its spending to Rs21 trillion in the current financial year from a year ago.

A slowdown in economic growth to a three-year low of 5.7% in the quarter ended June and declining revenue from the debt-ridden telecom sector, which is battling intense competition, make it imperative for the government to optimize tax revenue growth.

Net direct tax receipts in the April-August period rose 17.5% to Rs2.24 trillion. Gross personal income tax receipts increased 16% and gross corporate tax receipts grew 5% in the period from a year ago. The CBDT chairman said that it was not unusual for corporate tax receipts to remain low in the first quarter.

In the annual budget for 2017-18, finance minister Arun Jaitley set a full-year growth target of 15.7% for corporate and personal income tax receipts to Rs9.8 trillion.

“In the first quarter, the advance tax estimates of businesses may not be very accurate. We need to wait till the second quarter advance tax receipts to ascertain which sector is dong well and which is not,” Chandra said.

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