Special economic zones (SEZ), industrial park scheme and some other schemes that provide for tax exemption have come under income-tax scanner. Apprehending tax evasion, the I-T department has asked its field formations to scrutinise returns of the entities closely.
SEZs and industrial park schemes are administered by the commerce & industry ministry. Both are eligible for income-tax exemption under Sections 80(IAB) and 80(I)(A) of the Income-Tax Act respectively.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes wants income-tax returns of the entities scrutinised in the first-year deduction claim. The revenue foregone on account of Section 80(IA) exemption, also available to power plants and telecom companies, stood at Rs 15,757 crore in 2006-07.
While revenue outgo remains a concern area, the department wants to prevent misuse of the exemption facility to evade taxes. This is because the department feels that a large number of SEZs which have approved after the enactment of the policy may begin operations.
Sources said scrutiny in the first year of these entities exemption claim would help the department in detecting tax evasion. There is a feeling in the department that entities may be trying to push past profits or income in the year in which they can claim exemption.Close scrutiny will be able to catch this, a source said.
The I-T department is laying special focus on scrutiny as it helps in unearthing concealed income. At present, only 2% of the total returns are scrutinised. This year, the department plans to increase it to 2.5% of the total returns.
This follows a recommendation by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on finance which had asked the CBDT last year to intensify scrutiny as it helps it detecting tax evasion. Scrutiny procedures also have been made more stringent to improve the quality. The scrutiny for assessment year 2005-06 has to be completed by December 31, 2007.