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Smaller deposits to be probed only if big accounts indicate irregularities

Last updated on: November 30, 2016 11:16 IST

Limited I-T staff may compel them to focus on big fish than small depositors, reports Business Standard's Dilasha Seth and Indivjal Dhasmana.

Illustration: Uttam GhoshThe tax department will go after 'big fish' in probing deposits made in demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, but also intend to investigate small deposits, including Jan Dhan accounts, if the probe into big tax evaders gives clues for irregularities in these accounts.

"If our investigation team cracks down on a person using say 20 accounts to convert his black money, we will investigate all those accounts involved, irrespective of whether they have Rs 40,000 deposited in Jan Dhan or Rs 1 lakh in other accounts," said an official. He added that enquiries are already on in full swing.

However, limited personnel at the income tax department might compel them to focus on big fish than small depositors.

Notices might be sent only after January 2018, as tax returns are filed by July and assessments happen after six months, since these accounts would come up for scrutiny only in assessment year 2017-2018.

Enquiries, though, have already started in some accounts and will be used as information at the time of scrutiny.

"We will be running various models on the vast pool of data we will get. We might look at accounts where the deposits are more than 40 per cent of an individual's income. The criteria will be decided by a committee for assessment. But manpower crunch will compel the department to only go after large defaulters," said the official.

The second disclosure scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, has no specified end-date.

"If the government feels the need to extend the demonetisation scheme beyond December 30, the disclosure scheme window will be extended parallel to that. Therefore, we have not put an end-date to the scheme in the Bill (accordingly amending the Income Tax Act)," said a senior official.

Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal told Parliament the government was not considering extending the deadline of December 30 for deposit of invalid Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

The amendments were approved by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, November 29. The Bill goes to the Rajya Sabha, which can only hold it for 14 days.

If this happens, almost half of December will go and 15 days left for the window under the new scheme, in case the time period for depositing old currency notes in denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 is not extended beyond December 30.

So, the government would try to get the Rajya Sabha to return the Bill as soon as possible, sources said.

Payments under the scheme -- 50 per cent payment, including tax, surcharge and penalty, and lock-in of 25 per cent of the remaining sum in an interest-free deposit -- will have to be made at the bank, in prescribed formats, before filing a declaration.

The new scheme in this sense is different from the Income Declaration Scheme that ended on September 30, where the payment had to be made in three instalments running up to September 30 next year.

"More than Rs 8 lakh crore has already been deposited in the banks," an official said. "So, here we will not have to go and dig for information as in the case of IDS. We are constantly getting information of deposits of over Rs 2.5 lakh from banks.”

IDS fetches Rs 3,500 crore of taxes till Monday

The government's tax kitty will swell from tax payment under the IDS and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna, report Dilasha Seth and Indivjal Dhasmana.

The first instalment of tax payment from those who have availed of the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) 2016 stood at Rs 3,500 crore (Rs 35 billion) as on Monday November 28.

This, according to officials, could swell to Rs 7,500 crore (Rs 75 billion) by Wednesday November 30, the last date.

The exchequer is expected to get Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion) from declarations worth Rs 65,250 crore (Rs 652.50 billion) under IDS in three instalments.

Of this, Rs 15,000 crore (Rs 150 billion) would come in the current financial year through two instalments of Rs 7,500 crore (Rs 75 billion) each.

"People will pay up as IDS is much more lucrative than the new disclosure scheme announced, which has a 50 per cent tax and no immunity from the Benami Transactions Act," said a government official.

Those who do not make the first instalment will end up facing action as the department has information on them, the official added.

As many as 64,275 individuals availed of the four-month amnesty window that closed on September 30, 2016 under which they would escape prosecution under the Income Tax Act, Wealth Act and Benami Act by paying 45 per cent tax in three instalments running up to September 30, 2017.

The government's tax kitty will swell from tax payment under the IDS and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna (PMGK).

The latter calls for 50 per cent penalty for those depositing old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes and declaring their black money.

As much as 25 per cent of the total sum would also be locked in for four years in the PMGK and the tax assessee will not get any interest on it.

The tax kitty will also get a boost from the Seventh Pay Commission award.

However, tax officials are of the opinion that direct tax collections would meet the Budget target of Rs 8.47 lakh crore in 2016-2017.

This would be 12.6 per cent higher than Rs 7.52 lakh crore collected in 2015-2016.

This is so because the expected slowdown in the economic growth in the third quarter and part of the fourth quarter might hit tax collections.

The government received Rs 3.77 lakh crore in direct tax collections till October this year, up 10.6 per cent from the year-ago period.

Dilasha Seth and Indivijal Dhasmana
Source: source image