Govt to tighten noose on income tax evaders

Prime minister Narendra Modi said yesterday that the country need to move from a situation where only a few people pay direct taxes and many escape to a situation where many people pay a moderate amount. As such, he advocated the use of information technology to expand coverage of direct taxes.


In this regard, the government would soon launch "Project Insight" to catch high value offenders. It will profile tax assessees and then run various models on them to get information as to who is evading income tax. For instance, tax officials can run a model as to who has bought three houses in a given year and run them on tax assessees.  After getting information, they can see the amount of income tax that the identified persons have paid to assess whether there is any mismatch.


The government has also launched a domestic black money window scheme, giving a four-month time till September 30 for tax evaders to disclose unaccounted money and come clean by paying 30% tax, 7.5 surcharge, 7.5% penalty, totalling 45%. These could be paid by November 30.


A similar scheme for black money stashed overseas was launched last year but which did not yield much, garnering just Rs 4,147 crore.

The government also made it mandatory to furnish permanent account number (PAN) for all transactions over Rs 2 lakh through all payment modes with effect from January 1, 2016. It also rationalised monetary limits to furnish PAN for certain transactions, doubling it for sale and purchase of immovable property, hotels and restaurant bill to Rs 10 lakh and Rs 50,000 respectively.


The Central Board of Direct Taxes has also instructed income tax officials to scrutinise production details and tax returns filed by the companies engaged in mining activities and take appropriate action in case any discrepancy is found.


The government has also revised tax treaties with Mauritius and Cyprus to impose capital gains tax in India. Next in line will be the revision of its treaty with Singapore.

The country has also joined Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) action plan of OECD countries, which would come into effect from the next financial year.


Besides, the finance ministry is working towards placing tax officials at its embassies in the west Asian countries, a buzzing business centre for many Indians, to catch tax evaders.


According to data released by the finance ministry, only 31.1 million returns were filed for income tax in 2011-12. Moreover, 55.6% of these assessees do not pay any tax as their taxable income stood below the threshold.

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