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91 Lakh New Taxpayers Since Notes Ban, Says Government

NEW DELHI: Six months after PM Narendra Modi scrapped high value 500 and 1,000-rupee notes, the centre has something to cheer. Before the unprecedented November 8 decision to cancel 86 percent of currency in circulation there were nearly five crore tax payers in India but since then 91 lakh people have been added to the list of tax paying Indians, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

Stressing on the benefits of the demonetisation exercise, Mr Jaitley on Tuesday said the daily allocation of pan numbers has also risen to 2-3 lakh. Before the notes ban the figure hovered around one lakh a day.

Mr Jaitley’s statement on Tuesday came amid raids at nearly 50 places around the country as part of investigations including two senior opposition leaders, P Chidambaram and Lalu Yadav. “It’s time of reckoning for those who evade tax. We want to change habit from non-tax compliant to tax compliant.” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, as opposition leaders said the government is being heavy-handed about framing its opponents.

Launching a new website on ‘Operation Clean Money’, a programme to bring illegal wealth on books, the Finance Minister said that around 18 lakh people have been identified through data mining of bank deposits and other transactions post notes ban where cash transactions “do not appear to be in line with the tax payer’s cash profile”.

Post demonetisation, there has been a hike in collection of personal income tax, Mr Jaitley said, adding that the new portal will help honest tax payer.

There was 22 per cent growth in e-filed returns post demonetisation, said Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra. As many as 17.92 lakh people were identified for unexplained deposits after notes ban, he said, adding the tax department has identified one lakh suspected tax avoidance cases. He also said that an undisclosed income of Rs. 16,398 crore was identified post demonetisation.

“We identified around 17.92 lakh persons in whose case the cash transactions did not appear in line with the taxpayers’ profiles. And online verifications of these transactions are underway,” Mr Chandra said.

The new tax portal designed by CBDT, according to the officials, will help identify those who have made large purchases or deposits and the source of these was not clearly known. The portal, Mr Jaitley, said will ease the things for compliant tax payers and make things difficult for those who are non-complaint.

Here’s how the portal will work:
Phase one of Operation Clean Money was launched soon after note ban against those with undeclared income.
The focus of the phase 2 of Operation Clean Money will be on high-risk individuals. There are 60,000 such cases according to ITD and they will face stringent action.
As per the transactions, tax payers will be classified into different categories of risk levels. Cases for verification based on approved risk criteria will be chosen via data analytics. If a case is selected for verification, request for additional information and its response will also be communicated electronically.
Individuals/groups to be segregated in 4 categories: High risk, medium risk, low risk and very low risk. High risk individual/groups to face enforcement action like search, seizure and direct inquiry. Medium risk individuals/groups will be informed by SMS/email to take corrective measures. Low and very low risk individuals/groups will remain under watch.
The government, however, clarified that the names of those behind the suspect transactions will not be put up on the portal. A senior finance ministry source said, “Naming can be a problem. A transaction initially may look suspect. Naming will mean condemning a person publicly even before he or she has been given a chance to clarify”.
The CBTD’s online verification of transactions is aimed at reducing the cost of compliance for the taxpayers. Information will be available in the e-filing window of the PAN holder. Taxpayers who are not yet registered on the e-tax filing portal should register by clicking on the ‘Register Yourself’ link.
The information on the online portal will be updated as new information and response come in.
A pan holder can click the link “Cash Transactions 2016” under “Compliance” section of the portal and add explanation online about transactions. There is no need to visit Income tax offices.
Tax payers will be informed by e-mail and SMS for submitting online response on the e-filing portal.

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