The government's income disclosure scheme, the window for black money declaration may not have started yielding desired results yet, but the government has started building pressure on the suspect tax evaders by increasing the number of Income Tax raids across the country, which went up nearly three times in the first four months of this year—from 55 last year to 145 this year.
During the first four months of this fiscal (April-July), at least 145 Income Tax (I-T) raids have been conducted with more than Rs 245 crore unaccounted cash (black money) seized. The total undisclosed income admitted during these raids has been an unprecedented Rs 3,375 crore, excluding the cash and jewellery seizures.
According to top I-T officials, the I-T department's strategy to increase search and seizure operations against suspect evaders has been successful and the cash seizures have been an all-time high, most of it has been netted from leading educational institutions and builders in Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi among other cities.
During the first four months of 2016, at least 145 I-T raids unearthed unaccounted income and cash worth Rs 3,375 crore as against Rs 2,252 crore in the first four months of 2015.
As against Rs 76 crore of cash seized last year during the four months, the department managed to lay their hands on over Rs 245 crore this year during April-July. Seizure of jewellery accounted for Rs 85 crore as against Rs 21 crore last year.
The I-T department is also working on at least 90 lakh high-value transactions which have not been declared by people in their tax returns. These high-value transactions include multiple cash deposits of more than Rs 10 lakh each in bank accounts, and property purchase in excess of Rs 30 lakh. The I-T department has identified at least 7 lakh such high-risk individuals who have been put under scanner and their travel details and business operations are being investigated.
The I-T department has prepared a new unified data bank of these suspect black money holders across the country, particularly those who have taken help of 'entry operators' to launder huge unaccounted cash through the banking channels over the past few years.
A country-wide massive identification drive of these tax evaders has been launched involving around 800-1,000 supervisory officers of the ranks of commissioners and above to 'force' disclosures of black money under the Income Declaration Scheme launched by the government on June 1. The four-month window will remain available till September 30.
The entry operators are chartered accountants or middlemen who launder money on behalf of their clients by operating multiple bank accounts and companies. These intermediaries provide cheques to beneficiaries against cash deposits in their accounts and raise bogus bills for a commission of 1-2%.
Originally Published in the Times Of India.