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Tax base widens to 62.6 mn in FY 17: CBDT

The income taxpayer base moved up substantially to 62.6 million at the end of the last financial year, from nearly 40 million earlier, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra said on Monday.
Clearing the air on disclosure of bank account details of nonresident Indians (NRIs), expats, as well as foreigners with investments in private equity in India, Chandra also said such accounts need to be disclosed only whenarefund is due to the assessee.
The chairman of the CBDT said after demonetisation the department has takenahost of measures to increase tax base and the statement of financial transaction (SFT) report filed by banks shows widening of taxpayer base. “As on date, we have got 62.6 million assessees.
These assessees who have filed returns, paid advance tax or tax has been deducted at source.
This is a large jump from earlier years,” he said, speaking at the Income Tax Day celebrations here.
The challenge before the taxmen now remains how to widen the tax net and officials are working towards it, he said.
Chandra said that with the enactment of the amended Benami law, the tax officials have found out clusters and persons who have invested money in real estate without filing tax returns.
The department has also taken enforcement action and under the law, 233 properties has been attached.
With regard to reports on NRIs having to disclose overseas bank account details in tax returns, Chandra said “providing bank account detail is optional and only has to be provided for claiming refunds”.
The tax department, he said, will now start working on expanding the process of eassessment, he said, adding so far limited scrutiny cases are done using technology in 7 cities. “We are working on the strategy that within two months we will spread limited scrutiny to 100 cities.
Limited scrutiny cases which are selected should be done through systems,” he said.
If a case is selected under ´limited scrutiny´, it means a limit has been set on the enquiries which will only pertain to mismatch or in accurate reporting.
When a tax income expenditure profile does not match, the department´s automated system throws upacase for limited scrutiny.
The Income Tax department is probing over 30,000 cases of alleged tax evasion wherein the returns (ITRs) were revised by assessees after demonetisation, Central Board of Direct Taxes chief Sushil Chandra said on Monday.
The ITRs filed after November 8 last year were scrutinised against their earlier tax compliance, following which these cases were detected, he said. “We are taking action in these instances,” Chandra told reporters on the sidelines of an event to mark the 157th Income Tax Day in New Delhi.
He said that after the first phase of Operation Clean Money, it was found that some assessees did not report all their bank accounts to the taxman.
Under Operation Clean Money, the ITdepartment is contacting those whose bank account deposits were seen to be suspicious after the note ban. “We have found that they assessees have got more accounts.
We have now informed them through email and want their response over our website,” he said.
Chandra also said India has an entry rate tax at 5 per cent of the income which is one of the “lowest” across the globe.
“It is a very reasonable rate of taxation.
I do not think we can lower it at present,” he said.
Talking about the department´s action under the newly enacted Benami Transactions Act, Chandra said the tax department has made attachments worth Rs 840 crore in 233 cases till now. “We have found that many shell companies are owning such (benami) properties. Action will be taken,” he said. The demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 last year.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaks at the Income Tax Day celebration function in New Delhi on Monday.
Jaitley said examples have to be set to create a deterrent to using anonymous people to hide ill gotten wealth and the PAN Aadhaar linkage was such an effective antievasion measure.
Tax rates have to become more reasonable, he said, but for that to happen, the tax base has to be widened by including more people in the net.
The Business Standard, New Delhi, 25th July 2017


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