By Vinayak Misra.
In his latest Mann ki Baat radio address to the people on June 26, Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned India’s infamous legions of tax evaders that they were being given a chance to come clean under a tax amnesty scheme uptil September 30. The Income Tax department has since gone into overdrive mode to tighten the noose around individuals with under-reported or undisclosed income in a major effort to recover domestic black money.
This has sent a large number of such persons scurrying to their tax consultants in a bid to continue evading taxes. Speculation is rife as to the consequences of not declaring income accurately under the amnesty scheme. How efficient will the state mechanism be in rooting out those who do not comply, is the question being asked.
Under the amnesty scheme, these tax dodgers have been provided a one-time opportunity to declare their hitherto undisclosed income and assets, and pay the outstanding tax and penalties in the form of a cumulative tax calculated at 45%. The department has reportedly already identified taxpayers who are under-reporting their income, particularly civil contractors, doctors, advocates and other professionals who provide entries which are in reality benami (fictitious). The investigation wing of the department already has considerable information about such tax evaders and a large pool of data is also available through the 360 degree profiling mechanism.
Project OLTAS (Online Tax Accounting System) is geared to map cash payment with the bank and the assessee with PAN and TAN, irrespective of place of payment. The NMS (Non-filers Monitoring System) is a pilot project of the department to prioritize action against non-filers with potential tax liabilities. Project Insight of the department is a platform to strengthen the non-intrusive information-driven approach for improving compliance and for effective utilization of information in all areas of tax administration to detect fraud and leakage of revenue and support investigation. The project is also envisaged to meet the requirements relating to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and Automatic Exchange of Information.