The IT department has identified these deposits based on its scrutiny of ‘suspicious’ cash deposits of over Rs 5 lakh made between November 10 and December 30.
NEW DELHI: The Income Tax department’s initial assessment has put nearly Rs 4.2 lakh crore of cash deposits by 18 lakh people under the scanner even as it promised to give the benefit of doubt to ensure that honest taxpayers are not harassed by raising queries through a specially-designed online platform.
The department has so far identified these deposits based on its scrutiny of ‘suspicious’ cash deposits of over Rs 5 lakh made between November 10 and December 30. There are also deposits of Rs 3-5 lakh from those with a poor tax compliance record.
While official numbers are not available, deposits of old notes are estimated to be upwards of Rs 14 lakh crore.
According to sources, the large deposits were identified through tools deployed by the department in the first phase. Over the next 30-45 days, it is going to intensify the drive having hired external agencies to scan the deposits and tally them with the income tax returns. The department is hoping that data analytics will help it trace the ultimate beneficiary, including those who had resorted to purchasing gold or other tools to use up the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
CBDT chairman Sushil Chandra said the tax department has data that show over one crore bank accounts with deposits of above Rs 2 lakh and involves 70 lakh permanent account numbers (PAN).
While the online platform, which is part of ‘Operation Clean Money’, will ask the identified taxpayers to fill in the details of their cash deposits, including money received from others, the sources suggested that the department was bracing for a duel in case it felt that the responses were not satisfactory.
“The department has accessed a lot of data but the message is clear that only when there is strong evidence should we go after someone. If the accounts look okay then the taxpayer will be given the benefit of doubt,” said a source.
Chandra told a press conference that emails and SMSes seeking explanation about the source of funds will start going out to the 18 lakh people whose details are being put on the efling portal. They will be given 10 days to reply and if a response is not received, a notice will be issued. He said that the intention is to avoid any harassment as they need not come to the tax office.
“Operation Clean Money or Swachh Dhan Abhiyan is a programming software which will be used to get answers on all the deposits made and only after preliminary answers from the people, if need be, we would take legal action against those people,” revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia said.
For the government, demonetisation was a key tool to expand the tax base and the repeated reference to scrutiny comes at a time when it is exhorting those with unexplained cash to use the disclosure window.
Courtesy: Times of India